PUTRAJAYA: Transport cost incentives will be provided for the low-income B40 group under the health protection plan, now named Peduli Kesihatan scheme (PeKa B40), besides health screenings, medical devices aid and incentives for completing cancer treatment.
Those eligible in Peninsular Malaysia will be given up to RM500 for each disease and up to RM1,000 for those in Sabah and Sarawak.
“Many in rural areas did not continue treatment due to financial constraints and they could not afford transportation cost,” said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad at the PeKa B40 soft launch here yesterday.
The incentive and the other benefits will be implemented in stages starting with a RM100mil allocation for a pilot project in March, which will cover an initial 800,000 eligible recipients nationwide.
In 2013, The Star broke a story about the tens of thousands of rural indigenous people who could not receive highly subsidised hospital treatment because they could not afford the travel cost to the nearest hospital, which was often far away.
Dr Dzulkefly said the scheme, which emphasised early detection of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), is fully sponsored by the government and is free for all eligible recipients aged 50 and above who receive Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) as well as their spouses.
“There are 3.94 million eligible recipients and the scheme will be expanded in stages. It is offered on a first come, first served basis,” he said.
“Eligible recipients of BSH will automatically be part of the scheme and no registration is needed.
“From my perspective, this is really transformational. With PeKa B40, we’d want to see, a few years down the road, the plateauing of NCDs and subsequently a reduction,” he said.
Dr Dzulkefly said there was a high prevalence of NCDs among the B40 group.
He said three out of 10 adults suffered from mental health problems, higher than the higher income groups, and that cancer incidences had increased as 60% came in at late stages, while many did not complete their cancer treatment.
According to the ministry, PeKa B40 is managed by ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd, a non-profit company set up under the Health Ministry. It is wholly owned by the government with the intention of enhancing healthcare services access for Malaysians.
It was planned by the ministry to value-add and complement the current available services which non-PeKa recipients are receiving.
Dr Dzulkefly said there would be no change to the RM1 fee for outpatient treatment and RM5 for specialist treatment.
The benefits of PeKa B40 include health screenings, the buying of medical devices, payment incentives for completing cancer treatment and for transport cost incentive.
At a press conference, Dr Dzulkefly said private GP clinics would be roped in to do the screenings and would be paid a capped rate.
However, patients will be referred to government hospitals to be treated.
Dr Dzulkefly said the PeKa scheme was in keeping with Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto promise.