Saturday, February 04, 2012

1Care Becoming 1Scare

Looks like Malaysians from all walks of life will soon be bombed with this medical insurance health scare scheme that was not made public knowledge until recently and it is now in the final stage of fine tuning it before it is presented to Parliament for reading and eventually gazetted into law. Why would any citizen be unaffected or be indifferent? Again it is going to dig into their pockets because like in the UK or USA where such schemes are already in place every living soul MUST purchase medical insurance to receive medical care, failing which they will either be denied treatment, no matter how critical or urgent the situation is, or relegated to low priority unless these patients have privileged connection to powerful or authoritative figures. If you have watched the movie John Q starring Denzel Washington you know how an explosive situation can blow up when you feel your rights to healthcare especially when a loved one is critically ill is denied because you have no medical insurance. You can see it as discrimination but an emotional person can take drastic actions like take hostages to get attention and service. Will such a scenario occur in Malaysia?

We are heading towards public disenchantment that cuts across the board. Employers beware. You too will be made to pay for your workers and executives medical insurance, and those already doing so may have to revise the policies to comply with the new requirements of 1Care. Self-employed people must now buy new coverages which may be tied to age groups, the older you are the higher the premium. This information is still hidden from public knowledge. Pensioners and retirees who receive free or cheap medical treatments from government hospitals and clinics must now be insured, if not by themselves, by their sponsors, children or relatives. Sickly people and those living near to or below the margin of poverty will be hardest hit, and they include their families who pay their medical bills which will be higher than for an averagely healthy person. The despair will be great. What happens to the People First Performance Now sloganeering of the Najib 3 year old administration? What's happening appear more like People Last Profit First.

If the basic rights to basic healthcare without financial burden are denied then other forms of finding treatments will emerge, which may include off duty consultation off the record. Family, patients, care providers and professionals, can get really creative to overcome the uninsured cases. A new undercover scheme will emerge bypassing the government scheme. Whether it is food or healthcare, when people are forced into a corner they will look for, and always find alternative solutions to have themselves and their families fed and treated. You can say it is unethical, unprofessional or even immoral but when it comes to surviving a system that is out to get you, many people who cannot afford don't really care.

There is still hope the lawmakers will feel the pain of their constituents to throw the bill back to the government for a revamp. Don't let 1Care destroy the spirit of a caring Malaysia we know since independence.


Julian said...

Healthcare is a huge topic here in USA and most likely going to be a focus in the upcoming presidential elections. Medical insurance continues to increase on a yearly basis driven by increasing costs pushing some people into medical bankruptcy.

Requiring citizens to have medical insurance in order to be treated would increase the need for claims, compliance to regulations (is there even governance in Malaysia?), pre-existing condition discrimination (age is a pre-existing condition), etc. What started as a cheap benefit to entice candidates to a job (as part of their compensation) is now quickly turning into a big expenditure for employers.

American employers are now finding it so expensive to pay for employee healthcare that a 100% subsidized insurance is a rarity. Companies now subsidize a fraction of the insurance, forcing the rest of the premiums on the paychecks of employees. Did I mention that the paychecks often do not increase in tandem with inflation?

This is what we call consumer driven healthcare, otherwise known as deflecting the cost of healthcare to consumers. Obama had hoped to drive down the costs by introducing a public option, however there is no simple answer to resolve issues with healthcare in America.

Malaysia needs to tread carefully because this will definitely change how income is earned and spent.

Peter Yew said...

Julian, obviously our government has not learned the lesson from the systems that has already FAILED but continue to establish it here. If the government cannot contain the rising cost of public healthcare then it should stop from offer free healthcare to retirees, which although not a big sum, is seen as appeasing this category of voters or attempting to show it is a caring government. It should have just go straight to the point of raising the cost which everyone agree has gone up. Right now retired civil servants, teachers, army personnel, police and politicians all get FREE consultation, medication, diagnostic tests and hospital stay, while non-government employees pay RM1 to RM5 for free consultation, medication and diagnostic tests. Foreigners pay RM50 per consultation. These charges are pittance compared to private consultation and medical supplies and tests. Even if the government impose on a gradual scale to increase public healthcare costs 10% annually over 5 years it will be affordable as it will still be far less than going to private specialists or hospitals. No, the government ain't taking this route because it will 'hurt sentiments' and create public furor which may risk their re-election chance. The 1Care will create a greater tsunami than what I proposed as it is totally unacceptable and some have even tagged it as crony-based business. Peter.


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