Migrant workers were already paying '1st class rates' for 3rd class facilities since 2011(and one is not sure how hong before that) - see Migrant Workers should not be charged 1st class rates at government hospitals in Malaysia
Last November, Malaysian government started talking about charging migrant workers even more than what they were doing - they said it would be actual cost(with no subsidies) - and the charges will be raised over a period of three years - starting with January 2015 - see :-Unjust to compel Migrant Workers in Malaysia to pay higher rates for healthcare in government hospitals?
Now, it looks like the Malaysian government has gone ahead and increased FEEs and DEPOSITS... and like usual, it was done 'quietly' -
In 2011, a Malaysian will have to pay a deposit of RM20 to be warded in a 3rd class ward - a foreign national had to pay RM400.
If it involved surgery, the Malaysian paid RM30 deposit, whilst the foreigner paid RM800
If it was a maternity case, the Malaysian paid a deposit of RM15, whilst the foreigner paid RM800
Hospital fees 'injurious' to foreign workers
Citing a recent case where a two-year-old Rohingya baby was refused treatment by a Terengganu hospital because the parents could not pay the deposit, they said the new fees schedule had to be condemned.
“It is a huge sum of money for foreign workers and refugees and it has already resulted in serious injustices.
“In the above case, doctors referred the baby to the general hospital in Terengganu for specialist care, but admission was denied because the parents could not pay the deposit required.
“The parents have taken the child back home,” the NGOs said in a joint statement issued yesterday.
The new fee structure was released by the Health Ministry on Dec 29, through a circular that directed all state health directors, hospital directors and district health officers to implement it from Jan 1.
It specifies that “deposit for foreigners requiring admission to the third class ward in government hospitals be RM600 for medical cases and RM1,200 for surgical and obstetric cases”.
‘This will cause diseases to spread’
The NGOs said the high cost would result in foreign workers resorting to self-medication, which in turn could result in the spread of diseases harmful to all Malaysians.
“The delay in the diagnosis and proper treatment of foreign workers and refugees will lead to the transmission of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid, dengue and a whole host of others to the local population,” the statement says.
The NGOs said despite the Health Ministry having declared that 'infectious illnesses are exempted from the new fee requirement', it would be difficult to identify such illnesses as the initial diagnosis itself would be avoided due to the high costs.
The NGOs also wanted to know if Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam (right), as well as the cabinet, were aware of this new fee schedule that was sullying the country’s image internationally.
“So many of the doctors serving as directors in the Health Ministry hold public health degrees and even PhDs.
"Did they agree with this fee policy that is modelled more along the lines of an 'Ah Long' debt-collecting outfit, rather than on any principle of public health? Or were they not even consulted?
Was Foreign Ministry consulted?
“We would like to ask the minister of health whether he approved this new fee policy. Was it discussed with the Malaysian Foreign Ministry? Does the cabinet know about it?” the 13 NGOs further asked.
These NGOs are Aliran, the Coalition Against the Privatisation of Health Care, Jerit, the Kuala Lumpur Hokkien Association (Youth Section), the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, Paper Products Employees Union, Parti Rakyat Malaysia, Parti Sosialis Malaysia. the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign, Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia and Suaram.- Malaysiakini, 13/2/2015, Hospital fees 'injurious' to foreign workers
They further questioned if Health Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam approved the new fee policy and if the Malaysian cabinet was aware of it.
PSM said a circular released on December 29 had directed all state health directors, hospital directors and district health officers to implement the new fee schedule for foreigners from January 1 this year.
Certain categories of non-citizens are excluded, including red identity-card holders and foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens. But migrant workers and refugees are subject to the new fee where they have to pay a deposit of RM600 for admission to the third-class ward while the deposit for surgery and obstetrics treatment is set at RM1,200.
"This is a huge sum of money for foreign workers and refugees and a serious injustice to them," PSM said in a statement today that was also supported by other non-governmental organisations like Suara Rakyat Malaysia and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress.
They added that the new fee policy will also affect the health of Malaysians through the transmission of infectious diseases if migrant workers were unable to seek treatment.
PSM said many doctors serving as directors in the Health Ministry had public health degrees and even PhDs.
"Did they agree with this fee policy that is modelled along the lines of an “Ah Long” debt collecting outfit rather than on any principles of public health?
"A public health approach would prioritise the prevention of transmission of infectious diseases," PSM said.
Under the new fee structure, PSM said a two-month old Rohingya baby who was brought to the Jerteh Hospital for burns due to scalding by hot water, was not treated because the parents could not afford the deposit to ward the baby.
The parents then took the baby home and brought her for outpatient treatment the next morning. but faced the same problem.
The baby was finally admitted, but when the Jerteh doctors referred the baby to the Kuala Terengganu Hospital for specialised care, the admission was denied and the parents had to take the child home.
PSM said that apart from being unfair, the policy also sullied the country's image internationally, given Malaysia's chairing of regional grouping, Asean, and its nomination to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member.
"We are trying to promote the image of Malaysia in the international arena, yet the Ministry of Health has rolled out a policy that denies even emergency care to refugees and foreign workers," PSM said. – February 12, 2015.