SOME of the points raised in the letter “Heavy burden of unregulated hospital fees” (The Star, Jan 7) to explain the root causes of the escalating cost of healthcare are very true.
The medical card insurance concept was by and large created by the insurance industry. Its initial aim was noble and viable – to extend better medical facilities to people who could afford it but are not rich. The rich do not need medical card protection anyway.
However, the medical card has evolved into an entity that is now too expensive for many in the middle strata of society due to the ever-increasing premiums because of higher hospital fees. This situation is not good for both the people and insurance industry.
With more and more people finding it tough to buy and maintain insurance for health coverage, at the end of the day the public healthcare system will be greatly strained.
It is already functioning in overdrive due to lack of funds and manpower. Such a situation should not arise as the ordinary folks must have access to better healthcare in our public hospitals.
I believe that with better cooperation and understanding among all the stakeholders – insurance companies, private and public hospitals – a solution that is acceptable and beneficial to all the parties can be put on the table.
Regulating the fees in the private healthcare system is a good and pragmatic way to solve the problem. Private hospitals shouldn’t be too concerned that their profits would be eroded if a system that is beneficial to the Malaysian public be put in place.
They can still make good profits from medical tourism and the rich.
At the same time, private hospitals would be seen to be ploughing back some of their profits as corporate social responsibility (CSR).
Another area to look into is the recruitment of more medical personnel so that there is no shortage of medical human resources. Absorb more of our excess doctors (without compromising on quality) into the public health service so that fewer people would seek medical treatment from private hospitals, thus resulting in fewer purchases of medical cards.
We don’t have to emulate the practice of using medical cards like in many advanced countries since we have not achieved developed status yet.
With our low pay and being perpetually caught in the middle- income trap, medical card insurance is not feasible to a large segment of the Malaysian populace yet.
Considering the unique demography of Malaysian society, a public healthcare system that is efficiently funded by taxpayers’ money is the best way to provide good medical care for the people.
KHOO KOK HEONG
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