PM: More insurers should partake in B40 scheme

PPP would be an ideal mechanism to enable the govt to provide medical insurance to eligible Malaysians

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has called on private insurance firms to contribute to the government-driven insurance scheme for low-income households (B40).

Dr Mahathir said public-private partnerships (PPP) would be an ideal mechanism to enable the federal government to provide medical insurance coverage to eligible Malaysians.

“I hope that private insurance companies will cooperate to expand coverage of insurance and takaful for all Malaysians,” he said at the launch of the mySalam B40 National Protection Scheme in Putrajaya yesterday.

The PPP project is a joint initiative of the government and Great Eastern Life Holdings Ltd.

Under the initial stage of the scheme, Great Eastern has agreed to contribute RM2 billion in cash into the scheme, which is expected to benefit 3.69 billion people in the B40 bracket currently covered under the People’s Living Aid.

Dr Mahathir also called for more innovative and alternative PPP projects which could benefit Malaysians, as it would

be an arduous task for the government alone to channel enough resources to the target group amid the federal government’s financial constraints.

“Although the government inherited a massive financial burden by the previous administration, it will not stop the government from introducing people-friendly programmes such as the mySalam scheme.

“The focus is to increase Malaysians’ access to insurance and takaful coverage via various mechanisms,” he added.

According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), there are 21 licensed insurance companies and takaful operators in the country to date, of which half are locally owned.

In 2017, the insurance and takaful penetration for the B40 group was recorded at 30.3% lower compared to the 50.4% penetration in the total workforce.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the government will utilise the RM2 billion contribution to pay a social coverage insurance premium of RM112 for each individual under the mySalam scheme.

“The premium was set at cost price and without any profit for the insurers,” he added.

In return for Great Eastern’s contribution, Lim said the Singaporean firm was given exemption from the BNM ruling which limits foreign ownership in locally registered insurers.

“This is in line with the government’s objective to benefit the needy under the B40 group, instead of just a few people,” he said.

Under the mySalam scheme, eligible Malaysians between the age of 18 and 55 will receive free health protection for 36 types of critical illnesses which include cancer, heart attack and Alzheimer’s disease.

It includes a one-off payment of RM8,000, should the insured individual be identified with one of the 36 illnesses.

“The scheme also provides a daily payment of RM50 as income replacement, if the recipient undergoes treatment at any government hospital for a maximum of 14 days per year or equivalent to RM700,” said Lim.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who spoke at the same event, said the government will be introducing another scheme named “Skim Peduli Sihat” (PeKa) B40 — which will cater for Malaysians above 50 years old.

A pilot project on the scheme is expected to be launched next week with an initial fund of RM100 million.

PeKa B40 will focus on health screenings to detect non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiac arrest, stroke, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes.

“According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015, 36.5% of the B40 group do not know that they are suffering from at least one NCD such as diabetes, hypertension or hypercholesterolemia — which is one of the major risk factors for various critical illnesses,” he said.