Some Tambun Voters Want Cheaper Private Health Care

IPOH, Nov 6 – Restoring the economy may be a top priority for most voters, but party supporters attending the tambun race nominations day in Perak shared hope of paying less for private health care.

Voters also said that using public funds properly can help people with chronic illnesses get treatment.

For longtime PKR supporter Manoharan A. Chinapayan, health care can be made more accessible to the poor when private medical services are offered at a reduced price.

“I’m in the bottom 40 percent (B40) of the income bracket. If I go to the private sector for treatment and they ask me to pay 20,000 to 30,000 RM, I can’t afford it. But if the cost is over RM1,000, I can do it,” said the 68-year-old retiree code blue when we met yesterday

Manoharan’s last public service position was as a medical assistant at a government dental clinic in Ipoh. He began his career at Hospital Bahagia, the country’s largest psychiatric hospital, where he served for 16 years before joining the Police Volunteer Reserve Corp.

During his time at Hospital Bahagia, Manoharan was also in the military reserve or Territorial Army regime. Manoharan currently receives a monthly pension of RM750.

Former official and longtime PKR supporter Manoharan A. Chinapayan at the nomination day rally in Tambun, Perak on November 5, 2022. Picture by Alifah Zainuddin.

As a former civil servant, Manohan enjoys free health care in public health facilities – meaning he is exempt from paying the nominal registration fee of RM1 to 5 in state clinics and hospitals.

Manoharan also enjoys discounts on private hospital referrals in case he needs surgery or specialized medical treatment. However, despite the discount, the cost of private healthcare remains high and unaffordable.

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“For people in the low-income group, the B40, 1,000 RM, is a big sum for them. If you are a government official retired in the low category, you will only get RM450-RM600 monthly.

“Let’s say I work in the government sector, my final salary was around RM1,000. Now I get RM750 monthly – that’s mine Penzen (Pension). The reason I’m still able to survive is because my sons and daughters are settled and married, so I’m still getting by,” Manoharan said.

Anwar Ibrahim (Pakatan Harapan-PKR) from Tambun speaks at an event of Kenduri Rakyat Klebang Restu at Padang Kelebang Restu in Ipoh, Perak on November 5, 2022. Image by Saw Siow Feng.

Manoharan went on to say that private hospitals are “not transparent” with their fees and often use up all of a B40 person’s health insurance coverage.

“Most companies now deal in health cards. So you will approach low income people and get them to buy the health card where you pay RM200 to RM300 monthly. Let’s say the card covers RM20,000 to RM40,000. When people buy the card, they go to a private hospital and what happens in the end is they use up the medical card amount.

“The hospital will do it and at the same time ask for a cash payment. They will say the card has run out and you need to pay RM6,000-7,000 in cash,” Manoharan said.

code blue previously, Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM) CEO Mark O’Dell reported that health insurance claims inflation is attributed to a “buffet syndrome” in which the value of premiums paid is maximized, in part due to unregulated private hospital charges.

Every support counts on a patient’s journey

Roslee Mohd Tahir, a supporter of Reformasi ’98, at the nomination day rally in Tambun, Perak on November 5, 2022. Picture by Alifah Zainuddin.

Roslee Mohd Tahir, a 58-year-old diabetic and PKR supporter, spoke about the importance of community support when caring for a patient.

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A native of Parit, Perak, Roslee said he received about RM 20,000 in support, including donations from friends and zakat, during the years he lived with diabetes. To be eligible for zakat, the recipient must be poor or needy.

“I’ve never felt left out,” said Roslee, whose complications from diabetes eventually led to the amputation of a finger and femur. His treatment is also supported financially by family medical services enjoyed by his son, who works on a local council.

Prior to his current position as a small business owner, Roslee was a coordinating officer in the office of Selangor Menteri Besar (MB) under then MB Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Roslee said he was delighted with the candidacy of spina bifida researcher and patient advocate Noraishah Mydin Abdul-Aziz in Putrajaya to represent people with disabilities. “I hope that the needs of the disability community will be further explored.”

Health is important, but profitability has priority

Official Aidil Hakim Ahmad at the nomination day rally in Tambun, Perak on November 5, 2022. Picture by Alifah Zainuddin.

For 44-year-old official Aidil Hakim Ahmad, a supporter of the Perikatan Nasional, his main concern in this general election is the rising cost of living.

“What I am asking (as a voter) is simple: stabilization of the economy. The overnight rate (OPR) has risen four times this year – there’s no way we can keep up. We have loans for our house and car that need to be paid off,” Aidil said.

Although Aidil has no immediate health concerns, Aidil’s decision to dress up is revealing. Aidil and his wife were among the minority who wore properly fitting masks at the rally.

“For health, I think it all comes down to a person’s awareness. It’s like wearing a face mask, a lot of people at the rally weren’t wearing face masks,” Aidil said.

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“Sometimes you don’t know what’s hitting you until you really feel the brunt of it.”

The Tambun parliamentary seat in the 15th general election will be contested by four candidates: incumbent Ahmad Faizal Azumu (Perikatan Nasional-Bersatu), Anwar Ibrahim (Pakatan Harapan-PKR), Aminuddin Md Hanafiah (Barisan Nasional-Umno) and Abdul Rahim Tahir (Gerakan Tanah Air Pejuang).

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