Malaysians Face Financial Meltdown With Upfront Medical Payments

Self-Paid Medical Bills

Malaysian’s total healthcare expenditure stands at RM45 billion annually, with approximately RM36 billion spent on out-of-pocket private healthcare payments, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Out-of-pocket healthcare payments refer to payments made with personal funds or savings, instead of medical insurance.

“According to international health organisations, any country with an out-of-pocket payment rate exceeding 15-20% has a higher risk of facing financial catastrophe.

“We acknowledge that for Malaysia, the numbers are at an unhealthy level and the Government is looking at methods to reduce this rate,” Dr Subramaniam added.

Paying for medical treatments with personal savings can lead to a financial catastrophe, as one cannot predict future treatments or follow-up consultations, which can drive the medical costs even higher.

“The Government is conducting a study on how best to overcome this situation and reduce the weaknesses in our national healthcare system.



According to Dr Subramaniam, some individuals may not be able be eligible for private medical insurance because of the types of schemes, selection criteria, age barriers and coverage limitations.

With only a small percentage of Malaysians having health or medical insurance, and the absence of social health insurance, Malaysians are accustomed to paying on their own for treatment.

This may work for now, but may not be forever as patients can run out of funds quickly, leaving them in a dire straits as they cannot afford to continue treatment.

The Government is currently conducting a study with Harvard University, US on how best to resolve this situation and reduce the weaknesses in our national healthcare system.

They are also considering injecting innovation changes to maintain the sustainability of the current healthcare system.


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