PETALING JAYA: Malaysia ranks among the highest countries in Southeast Asia in terms of medical costs, according to a 2019 Global Medical Trends Survey.
It would come to a point where people could no longer afford health insurance and existing policyholders could let their policies expire, the Penang Consumers Association (CAP) said today.
“The cost of private health care is one of the main reasons for the increase in health insurance premiums,” CAP President Mohideen Abdul Kader said in a statement.
“It has been reported in the media that 80% of people seek treatment in public medical facilities, while the number of patients going to private hospitals fell from 70 to 80% last year. “
Such a scenario does not benefit the nation as private hospitals will see a drop in patient numbers as people can no longer afford treatment there while public health facilities will be overwhelmed, he stressed. .
The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) showed that only 22% of the population is covered by personal health insurance. The vast majority depend on public hospitals for medical treatment.
CAP said it has received an increasing number of consumer complaints about skyrocketing health insurance premiums in recent years.
This appears to be due to escalating medical fees charged by private hospitals, and he has called on the Department of Health (MoH) to investigate and take appropriate action.
According to Bank Negara’s (BNM) Annual Report 2019, Medicare (MHI) claims increased by 11.6% per year between 2016 and 2019.
He said that “the increase in claims has continued to exceed the increase in premiums” which have increased on average by 9.5% per year.
“In October 2019, the government allocated RM 25 million to the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) as part of the Malaysian Health Travel Year (MYHT) 2020,” Mohideen said.
“We believe that the surge in treatment costs in private hospitals is due to the promotion of medical tourism. Priority must be given to improving our public health system and not helping private hospitals to maximize their profits by treating foreign medical tourists. It is the responsibility of the government to provide good health services to guarantee the fundamental right of our people to life.
“The way to reduce long-term health care costs is for us to prevent serious illness. “
The CAP also urged the government to use the “sin tax” on our sugary drinks, tobacco, alcohol and gambling to promote healthy lifestyles and modernize public hospitals.