Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The subsidy that will stay

Cheap medical care to stay. The Government will not be doing away with health subsidies for the people, Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop told this blogger tonight.

"That's one subsidy we are not taking away," he said after the Bersemuka Bersama Media program at RTM tonight. Bernama editor Yong Soo Heong and I were the "media" who interviewed the Minister during the hour-long program.
During the program, the Minister mentioned in passing that the Government coughs up some RM9 billion a year to subsidize health care for the people. Over coffee later, I told him that health subsidy, like the subsidy for fuel, has also been abused by foreigners. The have been accounts of patients from a neighboring country who would fly into Sabah just to deliver their babies.

I asked him about the health insurance scheme the Government has been talking about for more than 20 years as a means to reduce or abolish those subsidies.

"Subsidies on health must stay. We will find ways to charge the foreigners more when they use our medical facilities," he said.

Is that good news?
Well, if we can't have an effective health insurance scheme, I suppose so. My little girl was stung by a jellyfish in a beach near Terendak camp yesterday. We sent her to the army hospital where the doctor attended to her, gave her two jabs, some rub-on powder, and a syrup medicine in a bottle. All for RM2.


  1. Anonymous1:32 am

    Now that the govt wants to reduce subsidies in fuel as well as food, it is gratifying that the Finance Minister 2 would like healthcare subsidies to remain.

    Yet, this is one of the most abused of subsidies. The Health Minister has been quoted to say that the govt pays 98% subsidy and that only 5% of the dues are collected from those who are not entitled to subsidies.

    Look at the Mercedes Benz outside govt clinics from people benefiting from subsidies that they do not need. Not to mention the foreigners who use our facilities to deliver their babies at the taxpayers expense.

    If there is any subsidy that needs revision, it is in healthcare. Forget about fuel subsidies going to foreigners. This is miniscule compared to the subsidies Malaysians are paying for foreigners capitalising on our healthcare facilities.

  2. Anonymous1:38 am

    Yes, when is the govt going to introduce the Healthcare Financing Scheme?

    This has been talked about for decades, yet everytime the elections are around the corner, this subject is dropped like hot potatoes form obvious reasons. Why? Because the voters are not going to cough up a monthly premium out of their salaries when they can already enjoy the existing healthcare privileges gratis.

    I reckon the subsidy govt is paying for healthcare far outweighs the misuse of subsidies in fuel.

  3. Anonymous1:44 am

    one of the beauty in living in malaysia. if only there are no racists to spoil everything, casting black clouds over clear blue sky.

  4. Anonymous2:55 am


    Health insurance is a myth

    A greedy reality for the greed

    For making monies – thats right.

    Health insurance is just a euphemism for




  5. If I may correct you ding-ding, foreigners have to pay in full for any services and medicine in government hospitals. There is even a study that shows foreigners pay less if they seek treatment in private hospitals.

    Handling Benz drivers seeking treatment in government clinics is a tricky issue because there are still hefty amount of those who truly require medical subsidy. There is no way we can discriminate the two. Profiling them based on income may not even be a solution. We Malaysians are notorious when it comes to database, mak-cik-isi-borang-ni-ni-ni-dan-ni and maaf-kaunter-tutup.

    I guess it boils down to the sense of accountability when one redeems their 'rights'.

  6. Health benefits should remain as they are as there are still too many people in the lower income group.

    Medical insurance will benefit no one but insurance companies, just look at USA. When insurance companies take over, anything to do with medical will go sky high. What will happen to the poor then?

    Foreigners must pay the market rate for their medical in this country and the same should goes for petrol as well.

    Frankly, the raising of gas prices is not only good for reducing the use of automobiles but will also reduce car admissions too and of course for the health of people.

    I hope your daughter is fine. For the same treatment in US you will probably have to pay the equivalent of RM140.

  7. Once used to the 'subsidy mentality'
    Then it's subsidy all the way
    Yet there's need for some clarity
    Where have all the 'vitamins' gone away?

    (C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng - 040608
    Wed. 4th June 2008.

  8. Ah insurance for medical treatment is the practice of capitalist American. Subsidy on healthcare like 'National Healthcare' is the practice of capitalist and colonial British. Both are bad open to abuse and misuse like what has been said by ding-ding and anonymous. MP should debate on this and think of something good for all Malaysian. Can we look at how Japanese does on medical care?

  9. The people's money should go back to the people.Tapi akhir2 ini banyak wang yang di belanja tak tentu pasal.......ada yang hilang on the way.RM 3.3 billion royalty minyak terengganu ,who the haprak that wallop it ? Where is that GEMILANG,CEMERLANG DAN TERBILANG ?

  10. Anonymous8:20 am

    Dear Rocky

    In 2001, total health expenditure
    as a percentage of our GDP was only

    Furthermore, government health
    expenditure as a percentage of total government expenditure was only 6.5% (for comparison, Thailand
    was 11.6%)

    Our government can clearly afford

    What the government needs to do is
    to make spending on healthcare more
    efficient and cost effective i.e.
    get rid of rent-seeking activities that drive costs up unnecessarily (e.g. improve the drug procurement process), spend more on prevention, spend more on occupational and environmental health, and so on. At the same time, the pay and working conditions of health personnel working in the Ministry of Health
    (and other relevant Ministries that provide healthcare services) should be improved so that they do not move to the private sector.

    It is necessary to treat foreigners (even illegal immignats) if they have infectious diseases. Infectious diseases spread from person to person irrespective of your citizenship status!

    Assoc Prof Phua Kai Lit

  11. Anonymous8:44 am

    Bru, anda hebat di TV semalam. Saya harap kakitangan kerajaan peringkat pertengahan yang tidak ada elaun lebih masa dan lain-lain kemudahan juga dikekalkan menikmati subsidi.. sekurang-kurangnya potongan cukai pendapatan, stk


  12. Anonymous9:12 am

    While we talk about 'abuse' of healthcare by foreigners, we should also focus on identifying and rectifying the wastages in terms of money and resources in the Ministry operation itself. After being acquinted with the MOH activities over the last few years I'm sure there are avenues where savings can be made via improved efficiencies and emphasis on real priorities.

  13. Anonymous9:13 am

    Yes, I am most thankful that the medical subsidies are to stay. The foreigners using our medical facilities can easily be identified and duly charged. That should be the way. I would also recommend all to watch documentary by Michael Moore called SICKO. America - the land of innovation and plentiful but you will be surprised what their people are getting in terms of health benefits compared to us.

  14. While we talk about 'abuse' of healthcare by foreigners, we should also focus on identifying and rectifying the wastages in terms of money and resources in the Ministry operation itself. After being acquinted with the MOH activities over the last few years I'm sure there are avenues where savings can be made via improved efficiencies and emphasis on real priorities.

  15. While we talk about 'abuse' of healthcare by foreigners, we should also focus on identifying and rectifying the wastages in terms of money and resources in the Ministry operation itself. After being acquinted with the MOH activities over the last few years I'm sure there are avenues where savings can be made via improved efficiencies and emphasis on real priorities.

  16. Anonymous9:26 am

    that 2 jabs and a rub would've cost you USD 200 in the US. Seems a little bit high? not if it cost you USD 100 just to see the doctor's face. This is of course, for ppl w/out insurance, which is to say, almost half of the nation.

    You dont cut corners in healthcare, simple as that. If foreigners are taking advantage of this ... my take is, so what?! Are we so self centered like the westerners that we cant spare a chunk of out taxpayers money? So what if it's 9 billion ringgit, are we any poorer than our neighbouring countries? Let's be honest, all these 'foreigners' who take advantage of our healthcare facilities are from countries that are no better than we are, so taking 'advantage' is probably the most inhumane term ive ever heard.

    lose a little to gain a better good. If you think it's about principal, maybe you should move to the land of the free, America. And good luck with that ...

  17. Anonymous9:31 am

    Hi Bru,
    Yes, about time we remove all these subsidies.
    Subsidy leads to obscurity >incompetence> corruption> wastages>leakages> downhill !!! Instead we should look into improving competency > efficiency > productivity> developed state!!
    And it has to start with the PM and the Rulers… but sad to say, I do not think the PM has the political will and backbone to do anything than sleeps !!

    The solution: To set up an OMBUDSMAN COMMITTEE !!

  18. We can’t be living on subsidies
    There will come a time it has to stop
    We must bite the bullet now
    Adjust our spending the way we live

    It is also better to look into minimum wage
    For the workers will feel the impact of it
    The government must really acknowledge
    The wages aren’t moving in tandem
    With the costs of rising essentials

    The hue and cry will be felt
    Across the country for the people
    The subsidies have to go sooner or later
    We can’t be living on pretending lower costs

    This is a global economics
    The effects run around the world
    The subsidy saves by the government
    It must be channeled to a worthwhile cause
    Affordable housing and poverty funding
    Health care and proper old folks’ homes

    When the minimum wage is increase
    The workers should contribute a ringgit each a month
    In this way their welfare will be accounted for
    When they suffer economics downturn
    Imagine the impact of the monetary value
    It can run into hundred millions a year

    We can’t be living on subsidies
    Time we must give up and move on
    And challenge ourselves to pursue
    The intrinsic values of our lives

  19. Bro,
    You mentioned that your daughther was stung by jelly fish near Terendak Camp beach in Sungei Udang,are you from Malacca as well?

  20. Anonymous9:59 am

    good day to u BRO!u're helping us alot already but when the gov says 'the Government coughs up some RM9 billion a year to subsidize health care for the people'.what about the people who's coughs with blood to servive from the gov blood suckers.
    every things goes up!!!

    Johor Darul Takzim

  21. Anonymous10:05 am

    Like any other Gov Ministry, GH cannot afford not to have wastage b'cos there is where jobs for certain group of people comes in. Efficiency equals less labour, equals less jobs, equals more crime equals more subsidy, equals more headachs equals....

  22. Anonymous10:16 am

    yeah, it seems nothing good news around except seeking favours from you all Bros and Sis on how to overcome the mess we are in...
    everything goes up but not our pays which are far apart from those 'Gov' and yet we are 'the people'.

  23. Anonymous10:18 am

    thank god for that. at least I know my dad can still get treatment at IJN.

    And I must tell you that the service i've seen at several govt hospitals that i've been to, namely UMMC, HUKM and Hospital Tuanku Jaafar in Seremban, deserve kudos.

    I thank the dedicated doctors, nurses and administration.

    A majority of Malaysians can't afford private hospitals. Not because they are dirt poor, but because a lot of private hospitals charge ridiculous prices.

    I can go on, but i would digress even further from the topic.

    All I can say for now is, thank you and the govt for this bit of good news.

  24. next when u go to the beach, carry a bottle of vinegar with u,...


    will save u on petrol bill,...

  25. Anonymous10:29 am

    Health insurance is only for those who are young and healthy and do not need it in the first place. No insurance company will insure elderly or even young with chronic illness that really requires medicare.

    Read the Disclaimer

  26. A young Doctor who was performing duty at Emergency & Trauma Centre of Selayang Hospital related this to me some years back.
    " Here we are used to getting VIPs for example a pentioner Tan Sri who came in recently.He was just having a slight fever but insisted that I ward him into the VIP ward. It was obviuos he just wanted to rest for a few days and get free VIP treatment.
    When I insist that it was not necessary he was angry and threatened to complain to my Director... I don't care!"..she said
    Well that young doctor had courage and conscience.She had the courage to prevent wastage of public funds from underserving VIPs.

  27. Anonymous10:38 am

    Good to hear that news. Anyway, the govt decision to scrap total oil subsidies must include revamping the vehicle tax structure & road tax. Personally, I would prefer that the implementation be done in stages so that the effect on economy and inflation could be slightly controlled.

  28. O.k. They have subsidised fuel costs up to RM56billion a year. The benefit of that subsidy reached reached all of us in reduced travel costs as well as food costs as it cost a lot less to send farm produce to our local markets from which we buy our groceries. So really no one can deny that we have not benefited from the fuel subsidies.

    So now they want to stop subsidising. They want to keep that RM56 billion and use it for whatever purpose maybe, or maybe use that to give us prorated rebates maybe based on our wealth, income and so on.

    But really?? Can we trust them enough to make sure that it eventually reaches us? Or is there going to be a lot of leakages so that a significant part of this RM56 billion now reaches the pockets of cronies. Is plundered. Is corruptly pilfered from our own coffers.

    No siree, I don't trust the UMNO led government to do the right thing in distributing this RM56 billion fairly. I would rather that they pay the subsidies.

  29. Anonymous10:49 am

    All is well with our goverment's hospitals. But we've been promoting our private hospitals to foreigners and so far they've been coming in in droves vis-a-vis singapore hospitals. Services were also reported as excellent. Are we saying that now we are going to charge them more until the rates are not competitive anymore vis-vis the rates in their countries? It'll be Singapore's gain again then.

    (trublu johore)

  30. Salam bro..

    Masih ingat bila paklah naikkan minyak sekaligus 30 sen dulu? Jimat katanya sunsidi sampai 4 bilion...logik akal yg diwar-warkan ialah akan masuk ke dalam dana pembaikan pengangkutan awam.

    So..paklah stop landasan keretapi berkembar dan kos masa tu RM 8 bilion. Kemudian dia sambung balik dah jadi RM 12 bilion...so sapa yg salah gunakan subsidi atas keputusan yg salah?

  31. Anonymous10:50 am

    Subsidy for healthcare seems to benefit a group of well deserving people. Low income earners surely cant afford for expensive medical care at private hospitals. They dont even can't afford to set aside a small portion of take home pay for yearly health insurance policies. Those who can really afford the expensive medical care at private hospital would not go to goverment hospitals as they perceive they would get better services at private wings. As this perception may not always true, it is better this trend keep on going. Let do some justice here. Don't overcrowding the government hospitals. Let those who are really in need of subsidised healthcare enjoy the services.

  32. Anonymous11:08 am

    Dont know what is going on la.. I only know is.. if got no money, better dont fall sick or die.. Very expensive tau!!

  33. "Efficiency equals less labour, equals less jobs, equals more crime equals more subsidy, equals more headachs equals.."

    Efficiency can also mean doing more with the same. In this case also mean the savings can be invested into more preventive care.

  34. Rocky,

    But the foreigners pay yearly levy for work permits ...! is this not a kind of tax also ? If illegals come treat them and send them back to their country! if the govt.cuts down on wastage; the country may even afford to give free medical treatment for her citizens!

  35. Anonymous11:49 am

    Ada benarnya kita tidak boleh selama-lamanya bergantung kepada subsidi. Tetapi subsidi kesihatan ini amat berguna kepada rakyatnya khususnya pada golongan yang kurang mampu.

    Saya sendiri bukanlah orang yang bergaji besar, walaupun mampu untuk ke klinik swasta tetapi ada kalanya bila tengah bulan budget tidak mengizinkan, maka hospital dan klinik kerajaan menjadi alternatif.

    Mungkin sedikit masalah dihadapi seperti terlalu lama menunggu kerana terlalu ramai pesakit dan kerenah kakitangan yang kadangkala menjengkelkan tetapi dengan RM2-RM5 ia masih memberikan saya rawatan dan konsultasi lebih panjang tanpa charge konsultasi tambahan yang biasa dikenakan oleh pihak swasta.

    Mungkin pihak kerajaan perlu mengkaji semula serta memantau kualiti 'customer service' pekerja kesihatan agar budaya kerja mereka lebih cekap dan mesra.

  36. We Malaysians need to learn ro cramp in trains, learn back to use busses and walk more often. We need to learn that Oil weill deplete someday and that cheap fuel do not come from thin air. We need to learn to recycle, to sweat more often and car pool.

    We need a double railway track in the peninsular so that goods and people can travel faster and more economical instead of using lorries and busses hence more weight on fuel subsidies. We need to build Bakun quickly so that we are less dependent on oil and coal for our electricity. We need to learn to drive small efficient cars and start thinking about hybrids. We need to have more solar panels and more alternative energy.

    One of the chief reason I have a problem with Anwar Ibrahim was when he talk about making fuel cheap. A leader needs to have a vision, look 3 to 10 steps ahead and not just play popular issues.

    I would rather spend money on several big mega projects, because I can see where the money went. Instead of ecenomic and smart spending on corridors which in the end billions are spent on merely some name...

  37. Anonymous12:08 pm

    Rinaz, it's more to that than just sharing the taxpayers money. u must look at how wide it actually is. Rocky hit the nail on the spot. Go to Sabah and see for urself, these filipinos come and breed like rabbit, and their offspring turn to crime creating a vicious cycle. Just wait till they come to Peninsula in the hoards. Suddenly u wont be so kind to them.


  38. Anonymous12:09 pm

    Dear Bro
    When I work in San Francisco, I used to drive animal that worth around RM500k here (maybe RM5k-8k financing / mth here), but I only pay so less than USD300 on monthly finance. (considering RM=USD)
    American pays so much less on Car financing, unlike we here, some car owners have to pay at least 30-40% of their earn on car. My brother earn like net RM2000 per mth, he just bought new Persona, which make him to pay like RM800 per mths, it already like 35% of his income. He can can just pay like rm200 than he might have more money to spend on other important stuff like improving himself, etc. So why dont we have normal car tax and Persona or any other Proton cars might just worth 5k (USD) or even less.

  39. Anonymous12:10 pm

    The removal of the oil subsidies at once will cause an instant negative supply shock to the economy(such as temporary higher unemployment, the rise in interest rates and the depreciation of the ringgit( which reflects a temporary higher inflation due to the increase of money demand in the market).

    I hope the government have a plan before implementing such a bold move. Personally, I think the government should remove the oil subsidies gradually(in a set time frame that the government will honor regardless of the world oil price) like Indonesia since it will help ease the mind of people and it will create a softer landing for Malaysia's economy.

    The government's intentions are good since it is preparing Malaysia into a more competitive nation with less subsidies in the long run.

    However, from now on, it will have to invest the freed subsidies into good investment programs such as a refined the current education system(it could be better) to build up a higher quality human capital stock for the country and maybe an improvement in the current infrastructure that will help boost productivity( efficient public transportation and a better broadband service)

    If the government chooses to use the freed subsidies into more larvish projects such as more national space tourists project, Malaysia will always remain at the same spot economically as it is today a.k.a land with subsidies.


  40. Anonymous12:30 pm

    bro rocky, berita baik yang u tanya tu bukan berita, itu kisah basi, kalau free barulah berita.

    berita yang tak baiknya sekarang kita kena tanggung kos sarahidup yang lebih tinggi. mungkin ke logik malaysia ni jadi negara kebajikan??

    ada pemimpin politik & ngo's minta rakyat tukar lifestyle, tapi para pemimpin kita kenala tunjuk contoh dan teladan, kalau hidup rakyat memang dah terhimpit, nak tukar lifestyle macam mana lagi?? cakap senangla.. makan balik la ubi kayu macam dulu-dulu...


  41. Rocky,

    I'm surprised that many of you support the healthcare scheme in preference to the current health insurance system. I can't blame you all because you have obviously arrived at such opinion based on the secure financial positions you're in at the moment. But, can't you just for a moment think about the less fortunate ? The kampung peasants, the lower income neighbours around you in the towns and cities, the retirees who because of their jobless position are fully dependant on the meagre savings that they still manage to salvage from their EPF payouts. How do you suggest we pay for our health insurance ?

    I am a 68 year old retiree from the private sector. I was quite comfortable with the EPF taking when I retired 8 years ago. My budget allowed me to invest in some shares and buy my dream car, a Mercedes Benz, not a flashy one, but just a 1985 model.
    At a glance and in the eyes of many I would be considered quite "a well to do". But is that really the case ? In fact, it is the contrary, a hard denial to digest. OK, firstly my shares have gone kaput and am now fully reliant on the remnants of my EPF savings. The longer I and my wife live the longer I have to stretch the residual balance. And this balance is fast reducing due to higher and higher cost of living. My car maintenance has in fact become unbearable. Not only repair and replacement costs have sky-rocketed, but insurance renewal has become rediculous. My 3rd party insurance has not only come with 100% loading, but also has to be buffered with a Personal Accident coverage the total of which came to about 200% of my normal insurance renewal expense.
    Alternatively, the car is required to be insured 1st party.

    Don't you think people like me are in a dilema ? I cannot sell the car and buy a newer one simply because its sale would not fetch enough for the puchase of a newer one. I cannot do without a car as I need it to go about to the groceries, to settle bills and to the clinics. I am sure you are not suggesting that I use public transport !!!

    So how do you suggest we pay for our health insurance ? After taking into account all the exclusions, the exceptions, and future amendments which are usually made at the discreation of the insurers, don't you think we'll still end up the losers !!!

  42. Anonymous12:50 pm

    I welcome any decisions that benefit the Rakyat. The least we should do is be thankful with whatever it is they are trying (hard?) to give us. But to say that, even such decisions would still be unsatisfactory to a certain group of people who are overtly critical and only seem to find faults with whatever the govt is doing. Of course we want the govt to do their very best for us, but we have to be realisitic also what? Are we living in a perfectly idyllic world now? pfft

  43. Anonymous6:41 pm

    Blogger Azman said...

    " If I may correct you ding-ding, foreigners have to pay in full for any services and medicine in government hospitals."

    Allow me to recorrect you, Azman. While foreigners are supposed to pay in full, the actual amount collected is only 5% of the total outstanding bill for all foreign patients (to quote the Health Minster). I'm told most of them disappear into thin air once they are discharged from hospital.

  44. Readers,
    Sorry for the error in my first sentence...it shd read " in preferece to the existing health subsidy scheme".

    To Daniel, I am quite perplexed as to how you can be contented with the crumbs being fed to people like us. More so knowing full well that the country's wealths are being plundered in the guise of billion Ringgit projects. Don't you think that we would be in a better position if the projects are postponed to better times ?

  45. I do hope tht Msia will never adopt the healthcare insurance system like in the US. Bear in mind tht once tht take effect, you'l have to buy diff insurance for diff things. healthcare, dental, prescription and eye. that's 4 different insurance tht you'll have to get for each of you. they dont come under 1 insurance. And yes, healthcare insurance is a direct screwing system i.e. you're being screwed over and over again.

    I have the link to kaiser permanente thrive exposed on my princessjournals.blogspot.com. If you want to read 'horror' stories, do visit the website. And those are the ppl who fork out thousands of dollars every yr for their insurance, yet ....


  46. Anonymous10:18 am

    "Subsidies on health must stay. We will find ways to charge the foreigners more when they use our medical facilities," he said.
    read carefully find ways to charge or suck (blood) like they did to us hte 'people'

    jb 'people'

  47. Anonymous9:29 am

    petrol subsidy need to stay, it isn't a question in economics, it is a fundamental unless government of malaysia wants to damage the economy as it did now