Finance minister: Govt’s B40 health insurance scheme to last five years, at least

(From left) Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad, Lim Guan Eng, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Khor Hock Seng and Amiruddin Hamzah pose for photos with a mock cheque during the launch of mySalam in Putrajaya January 24, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
(From left) Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad, Lim Guan Eng, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Khor Hock Seng and Amiruddin Hamzah pose for photos with a mock cheque during the launch of mySalam in Putrajaya January 24, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 24 — Putrajaya’s health insurance scheme for the bottom 40 per cent of workers is expected to offer coverage for at least five years, Lim Guan Eng announced today.

The finance minister said the mySalam scheme, to which Great Eastern Takaful Berhad has contributed RM2 billion, is expected to benefit 3.69 million people from the B40 group who would get a one-off payment of RM8,000 if they suffered certain critical illnesses.

“Under this mySalam scheme, eligible recipients will get free health coverage for 36 critical illnesses including cancer, heart attack and Alzheimer’s,” Lim said in a speech at the launch of the mySalam scheme here.

Besides the one-off RM8,000 payment, recipients will also get RM50 income replacements daily if they seek treatment at any government hospital for a maximum of 14 days a year, or equivalent to RM700 annually.

According to Lim, Great Eastern’s RM2 billion contribution was in exchange for not having to divest 30 per cent of its Malaysian business in compliance with Bank Negara rules that stipulated a 70 per cent cap on foreign ownership of local insurance firms.

“The government will use the RM2 billion contribution to pay premium rates for this social health insurance of RM112 per individual under this scheme. This premium rate has been set at cost without profit for the insurance company,” said Lim.

According to Lim, coverage under the scheme came into effect on January 1. Eligible B40 recipients can start making claims from March 1 onwards.

“This scheme is an example of a government initiative based on the public private partnership model to enhance social welfare and health coverage of Malaysians,” said Lim.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad, who was also at the event, said his ministry’s PeKa B40 health scheme was different from the Finance Ministry’s mySalam.

According to him, mySalam is offered to recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) cash assistance aged between 18 and 55, while PeKa B40 was for BSH recipients aged 50 and above.

“PeKa B40 focuses on health nets, which is early detection of NCDs, whereas mySalam focuses on benefits for recipients when they suffer one of 36 critical illnesses,” Dzulkefly said in a speech.

NCDs are non-communicable diseases.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said at the event that the PeKa B40 scheme would receive RM100 million in funding.

After the event was over, several Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) members led by former Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj came to the ministry’s office to protest against the mySalam scheme.

Dr Jeyakumar claimed that the scheme would benefit private health care at the expense of the public system and said the RM2 billion contribution would be better used to help patients at public hospitals buy medical equipment.

*A previous version of this story inadvertently named Great Eastern Life as the contributor of RM2 billion to mySalam, when it is in fact Great Eastern Takaful Berhad. The error is regretted and has since been corrected.

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