More questions than answers
CONTINUING my tirade against the unpopular 1Care healthcare insurance scheme, the Health Ministry now seems to have its back against the wall trying to placate concerned taxpayers, already finding it hard to afford decent healthcare in this country.
Since the Health Ministry's National Health Financing (NHF) unit deputy director Dr Rozita Halina Hussein announced two weeks ago that the scheme would be “mandatory”, the minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (pic) has been taking pains to explain that the issue is still in discussion stage.
While nothing is set in stone — of yet — the fact that the various proposals include such options does give rise to concerns.
Liow on Saturday tried to allay fears by saying that employees will not be required to contribute 10 per cent of their monthly income to the proposed scheme.
But just where is the money coming from? It is understood that one option includes deducting a percentage from our Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributions — both employees and employers contribution.
And what guarantees are there that after contributing to the scheme, we will be able to get deent treatment at a government hospital — where a regular check-up can be a day-long affair.
Liow's predecessor Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had tried to implement a maximum two-hour wait for treatment and pharmacy — which is still long by world standards — but how realistically is this being implemented on the ground?
Moreover, with the exodus of doctors, nurses and medical staff to the private sector and even abroad?
Will 1Care cases be treated as “welfare”?
Already some patients on welfare are complaining that hospitals are not giving full treatment to these patients to “save cost”.
A complaint I received over the weekend claims that although he had three blocked arteries, a patient only received two stents.
Reason being? He is being subsidised by the hospital.
Fears of 1Care being another money-maker cannot be ignored. The fact that private companies — 12 of them — are falling over themselves to bid for it proves that it is going to be a profit oriented affair. Don't tell us it is national service.
What is likely to happen — and this is my take anyway — is something similar to the failed E-Kesihatan proposal will be pushed towards us. Back in 2007, it was proposed that commercial vehicle drivers are examined by a consortium of doctors approved by the Road Transport Department (RTD).
This means medical examinations by doctors who are not members of the consortium would not be recognised by the RTD.
The fact that Supreme Systems which was to manage the consortium has a former RTD state chief as a company director, raised eyebrows.
But as usual, the cart was placed before the horse and Supreme Systems had gone ahead and set up its infrastructure — although the government had yet to finish speaking to all stakeholders.
Following the scrapping of the project Supreme Systems filed a RM103mil claim for compensation.
Will 1Care be following the E-Kesihatan model?
Does this mean one can only go to “participating hospitals”?
After all, Dr Rozita did say that the private hospitals are welcomed to “participate”?
Say if the project takes off, what would this mean to existing health insurance policies?
Will one be paying for a health plan that one will never use? Will your money be “burnt”?
I propose that the Government stop looking at ways to take more money out of our pockets.
Reassess your priorities and expenditures.
Stop the outflow of illicit funds. Start looking at bringing home the billions in outflows stashed in Swiss banks and Jersey accounts and even in our Southern neighbour. Stop the bleeding of funds which is illustrated annually in the Auditor-General's Report. Take more punitive action against corruption and careless approvals. Have a more open and transparent tender process where “surat sokong” will be disclosed.
As long as we don't have a holistic approach to getting healthcare right, the best option is to bury this 1Care nonsense.