Govt committed to reforming healthcare system

The govt is looking at financial attractions to encourage middle class Malaysians to purchase health insurance

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by TMR FILE

THE government is committed to reforming the healthcare system in the medium to long-term to ensure accessibility and coverage for the entire population.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the current exceptional circumstances of the pandemic also present an opportunity for the government to relook at healthcare policies.

Moving forward, he said the government is devoted to addressing structural issues in the healthcare system with a blueprint Malaysia healthcare system that will be introduced to support national healthcare system transformation which is under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

“Designing the blueprint, a study will be taken to strengthen the healthcare system landscape that will include public healthcare sector transformation, private healthcare regulatory reform and sustainable health financing.

“The government has announced the plan for next five years that we want to increase the public healthcare charges also for higher income patients in the aftermath of the pandemic,” he said at The Straits Times — World Economic Forum Webinar yesterday.

According to Tengku Zafrul, the government is also looking at financial attractions to encourage Malaysians from the middle class to purchase health insurance and finance healthcare expenses by looking to incentivise it.

He said the government will focus on social protection under various schemes in Malaysia to provide some health benefits which we want to extend to cover informal workers.

“Asean, the region also needs to spend more on public healthcare, at the moment the average spending is about 4% of GDP which is still below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s average of between 10% to 12%.

“We need to stimulate the investment, we must commit to increase healthcare spending and improve public healthcare partnership,” he added.

It is a must to increase our preparedness for the future pandemic through Asean resources highlighting the capacity needs and gaps in the national response of each Asean member state, he said.

“We need to invest for example in regional disease centres, currently for vaccines, better understanding of communicable disease,” he said.

According to Malaysia Voluntary National Review (VNR), the public healthcare system subsidises up to 98% of the healthcare cost, with more than 70% of the population depending on the public health system.

“To reinforce our commitment, the government’s total expenditure on health has been steadily increasing over the past decade, rising from RM32.89 billion or 4% of the GDP in 2010, to RM64.31 billion or 4.3% of GDP in 2019, nearly double,” Tengku Zafrul added.