From The Star,
Foreigners taking up big share of medical subsidy
BY ZUHRIN AZAM AHMAD
PUTRAJAYA: Foreigners are taking about 30% to 40% of the country’s entire allocation for medical treatment meant for Malaysians, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said.
“They are eating up our medical subsidy,” he said, adding that in most countries in Europe, foreigners were required to pay the actual cost.
The minister touched on the issue at a press conference after addressing the ministry’s monthly assembly here yesterday.
Last December, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya announced a plan to get foreigners, including students, to pay for their actual cost of medical treatment in government hospitals, not at a subsidised rate.
It has been a long standing issue and it is time that stricter conditions are imposed on foreign workers who enter Malaysia. Employers must be responsible in ensuring that their foreign workers get the necessary health coverage should they require them. Charging higher hospital fees alone will not suffice as many foreign patients claim they have inadequate cash to pay off these bills upon discharge from hospital. It is currently not a policy to turn away patients when they require medical attention.
Employers need to show proof that their workers have a health plan prior to approval of a work permit. This is almost standard practice in most countries. Workers who require medical attention but who do not have a health plan would then violate their work permits and would be put in holding centers with medical facilities prior to repatriation to their home countries.
Hospitals need to check immigration status of their patients and inform the immigration authorities should they come across illegal immigrants under their care. This is about protecting our borders and the welfare of the Malaysian population.
Many government hospitals are loaded with foreign patients who can ill afford their medical bills. It is time to end this as Malaysia attempts to cut subsidies even to Malaysian citizens.