Govt urged to consider SST exemption for all health services


PETALING JAYA: Worried about higher medical bills, traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) patients want the government to reconsider the move to impose an 8% sales and service tax (SST) on such services starting March.

Some of these patients use T&CM to complement modern treatments.

Farhana Ali, who has been using acupuncture to manage pain related to her cancer and chemotherapy, said: “Acupuncture is not cheap. It costs between RM50 and RM250 per session.

“And with the 8% SST, the bill is only going to increase further. Paying RM4 to RM25 more will be a burden as you need several sessions.”

The 43-year-old housewife said she hoped the government would consider an SST exemption for health services.

Engineer CH Soo said 8% would be “too much” for those undergoing T&CM treatments.

He said he had a sprained knee that led him to seek treatment for six months.

All in, he went for 30 sessions, and it cost him RM83 each visit.This included massages, acupuncture and herbal bandaging. Occasionally, herbal medicine was prescribed, which cost RM150.

Soo, 36, said he would seek out T&CM for other issues in the future.

Another patient, who only wanted to be known as Halimah, said she opted for Malay traditional medicine for minor problems as outpatient treatment at private health clinics was unaffordable to her.

“As for government health facilities, the queue can be very long,” she said.

She said there was less waiting time for traditional treatments, besides being cheaper.

“At least it is not as expensive as private clinics.

“Still, 8% is a lot to pay. It will make it less affordable for people like me who want faster services without having to pay a lot at private facilities,” she added.

Retiree Ng Bo Lim, 75, who has glaucoma, said she had been relying on acupuncture.

She is worried that her treatment would become more costly and her son would have to foot a higher bill if the price of acupuncture increases.

Lorry driver R. Anba hoped to have more clarity from the government whether physiotherapy would also be affected by the SST.

“I read the news that SST will cover physiotherapy. If this is true, it will be very burdensome for me as I require frequent sessions after an accident. The sessions cost me thousands of ringgit,” he said.

Anba, 47, said he had been dipping into his savings to pay for his physiotherapy sessions.

“I hope the government will exempt physiotherapy from SST as a lot of people rely on physiotherapy at private centres or facilities,” he said.

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TCM , SST , Acupuncture

   

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