The Selangor government says a new health financing scheme mooted by federal authorities was “frightening,” pointing out instead that the current national health care system, which is almost free, should be continued

The National Health Financing Scheme (NHFS) was announced over the weekend by Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

“What frightens us is that nothing is ready, nobody knows about the scheme,” said Selangor state executive councillor Dr Xavier Jayakumar today (13th July 2010).

Under the country’s current health care system, Malaysians can seek medical treatment at a public hospital with just RM2 for registration.

Consultations and medication are provided for free.

Under the new scheme, Xavier said that an uninsured person would have to pay for consultation fees and medication at market rate.

Pointing out that 70 per cent of the population have household incomes of less than RM3,000, he said most would not be able to afford medical treatment.

“You have to have a very clear scheme on how the poor, the unemployed, the lower income population are going to benefit from the new scheme,” he said.

Kota Damansara assembly member Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim said the new scheme was akin to the privatisation of health care.

“Health has become a commodity. Everything had been privatised, commercialised,” he said.

Nasir said that health care should be the government’s responsibility and not made private.

He said, for example, both University Hospital and Serdang Hospital had private wards within the public health institutions.

Nasir said that could put a strain on the doctors and medical officers who are already overworked.

Xavier said the main problem was that the public health sector needs a budgetary boost.

“The Federal Government is not willing to increase the expenditure in the health industry,” Xavier said.

“I think they should stop giving licenses to new private hospitals,” he said, adding instead there should be more public hospitals especially in Selangor and funding should go towards them.

This report first appeared in the Malaysian Insider.