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KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani suggested today a mandatory national insurance scheme as an option to help cancer patients pay for expensive treatments.
Johari said the proposal could be brought up with the Health Ministry for further discussions.
"At this moment, I don't have any specific strategy to tackle this. But what I can think (now), if it's true this illness becomes a big matter, we can do some kind of compulsory insurance scheme specifically for cancer," he said in Parliament.
"Maybe we can invite all the insurance companies in Malaysia to participate in the scheme, because if it's only one company, may not be be profitable or they cannot take the risk.
"So we can bring all insurance companies, participate in this and then we come up with a reasonable premium and any low-income groups that really cannot afford, maybe we can look into it," he added.
"But this is only a very rough proposal, somebody have to get the stakeholders to discuss this in detail with the Health Ministry," he concluded.
He was responding to a question by DAP's Klang MP Charles Santiago, who had proposed the federal government establish a national cancer fund to help cancer patients deal with treatment and medicine bills.
Santiago said the existing funds under the government's welfare department and hospitals are inadequate to deal with the needs of cancer patients.
Johari said cancer patients in his Titiwangsa constituency similarly face expensive treatment and go to public hospitals, noting that restrictions in the federal government's ability to help everyone meant that the Health Ministry's targets those who truly need aid.