Going cashless may not pay off

PETALING JAYA: Starting Oct 1, all Health Ministry facilities, including clinics and hospitals, will only accept cashless payments, but Malaysians are having different views about it.

Jimmy Wong, 40, hailed the Health Ministry for going through with cashless payments in all of its facilities, describing it as easier and time-saving.

Wong recounted his experience of a minor stroke episode last year, where he had to pay about RM4,000 in medical fees after being warded for a month.

“It would have been so troublesome if I had to physically go to the ATM and withdraw that amount to pay my medical fees after checking out,” he said.

Allowing credit card payments, said Wong, would also be very convenient for those who are cash-strapped at the end of the month.

However, Wong said cash payments should be retained for the vulnerable or elderly, as they might not have an ewallet or credit card.Darshan Singh, 80, who does not own a credit card or any form of ewallet, said the new move by the Health Ministry might be troublesome.

“I might have to ring my son to set up an ewallet account on my smartphone,” he said.

The octogenarian has always paid for his medical checkups in cash, but conceded that cashless payments might be a safer option.

“I’m getting old and frail. Sometimes, I don’t even count the change I receive,” added Darshan.

Meanwhile, 38-year-old Christina Tan, who recently went for an eye check-up at the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), said it was a breeze using cashless payments.

“My eyesight was very limited after surgery and it would’ve been impossible for me to pay with cash and ensure I get the right change back,”she said.

The ministry issued a circular on June 22 stating that beginning Oct 1, all Health Ministry facilities, including clinics and hospitals, will only accept cashless payments via debit card, credit card or ewallet.

The circular, issued by its secretary-general Datuk Harjeet Singh, said customers were only allowed to pay with cash if the said individual does not own a bank account or have access to cashless payments.

According to Harjeet, the cashless payment initiative was meant to reduce the risk of leakages involving public funds by facilitating payment processes, reducing the risk of contracting Covid-19 and cutting cost in revenue collection.

In line with the Health Ministry’s anti-corruption plan and the Malaysian Digital Economic Blueprint 2021, Harjeet said the Health Ministry expected 95% of transactions at its hospitals and clinics to be cashless by the end of the year.

In Melaka, health and anti-drugs committee chairman Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh said cash payments would still be accepted at all Health Ministry facilities in the state after Oct 1.

“It is to make it easier for senior citizens to make payments at all clinics and hospitals.

“We will not make payments on a cashless basis compulsory, especially at rural health facilities, as many elderly folk have no debit card, credit card or ewallet,” he said yesterday.

Dr Muhamad Akmal added that the state would also accept cashless payments.

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