Many Malaysians, especially the senior citizens seek medical attention at government clinics and hospitals all across the country.
In Klang for example, Malaysian citizens from all walks of life can seek medical treatment ranging from common colds, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol ailments and they can even have their tooth extracted for a minimum fee of RM1.
The above medical services are provided at the Bukit Kuda government clinic. These services are also provided to the public at the Hospital Sultanah Tuanku Ampuan Rahimah, which is located at Jalan Langat, Klang.
While visiting the Bukit Kuda government clinic in North Klang, located next to the Hokkien Association for high blood pressure treatment once every 3 months, I only need to pay a sum of RM1, For those who would like to seek treatment from specialist doctors, they will have to pay a sum of RM5.
While at the clinic, I have seen foreign nationals seeking treatment therein. Although the health treatment and care is provided by our government to its people, I have always wondered are the health services provided by our clinics and hospitals extended to foreign workers as well.
At long last, the answer to my question was finally answered in an article entitled “Medical Must” which appeared in the Star newspaper dated 21st November 2010. In it, the government through the Minister of Health, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, was reported to have said, “foreign workers medical bills in public hospitals which to date totaled RM19 million, has in fact burdened the government tremendously”.
The above has come about as the government has incurred costs because some foreign workers, who sought treatment at public hospitals had left without setting their bills or were only able to make partial payments only.
As from 1st January 2011, the government has announced that all foreign workers employed in Malaysia except for domestic maids, must have medical insurance coverage under a government ruling.
Health Minister, Datuk Liow said each foreign worker must have medical insurance coverage with an annual premium of RM120. With the above proposal, it is hoped that the Malaysian government’s predicament regarding health services to foreign workers at government clinics and hospitals will hence forth cease.
Reiterating further, the Health Minister said, employers hiring foreign workers would have to, from henceforth, have to enclose a copy of medical insurance policy for their prospective employees when applying for a work permit. Whereas, existing foreign workers who are applying for a renewal of work permits, their employers would have to submit a copy of insurance policy too. The above new decision is part of the Health Ministry’s 6 Entry Points Projects or the EPP.
Now that the question regarding insurance policy for foreign workers has been settled, we now arrived at the question of who would go on to pay for the medical insurance premiums, employers or the workers? This is yet to be settled.
The Malaysian Employers Federation has voiced its protest regarding the insurance coverage being borne by the 1.5 million foreign workers in the construction services and the manufacturing sectors. The Federation asks, “Bills incurred at government hospitals are not that high. Why then should coverage be that expensive?”
The Federation has further suggested that insurance cover start from RM50,000 instead of RM100,000. With regards to the insurance coverage for foreign workers to be implemented, the Government will appoint a total of 31 insurance companies to provide insurance coverage to foreign workers.
Coverage will also be for illness suffered by foreign workers while working, including critical illnesses. It is my opinion that foreign workers will face not much problem regarding payment of premiums which is said to cost only RM120 per annum.
If foreign workers can afford the purchase of motorcycles and vehicles while they are working here in this country, there is very little reason them not being able to pay for insurance coverage.
If one were to visit gambling outlets such as Toto, Magnum and 4D, the presence of foreign workers investing in such activities clearly indicates they can very well afford to pay for the cost of medical insurance which after all is for their own good anyway.
It should be reminded that medical facilities provided by clinics and hospitals are solely intended for Malaysian public alone. Foreign workers, unfortunately cannot be expected to benefit from health care provided by the government.