The Malaysian government has announced a free national health insurance scheme for the low-income population group at an initial cost of two billion ringgit ($481 million).
In a statement on December 28, finance minister Lim Guan Eng said the so-called B40 (bottom 40 per cent) wage earners will be eligible for the scheme from January 1, 2019. It will provide coverage against 36 critical illnesses and include payouts up to 8,000 ringgit ($1,924) over a period which will be announced in due course.
The “National B40 Protection Scheme” also gives daily payments as income replacement in the event of hospitalisation for up to 14 days at 50 ringgit ($12) per day or 700 ringgit ($168) per year.
The scheme will further provide medical coverage for five years to the targeted recipients, benefiting individuals between the ages of 18 and 55 within the 4.1 million B40 households, the minister said.
Applicants can register for the scheme online without having to undergo medical examination as a qualification check. Those successful will be notified through SMS.
Lim said the government will disclose further information on how the scheme will work when it is officially launched early next year.
“This scheme, the first of its kind in Malaysia, is guided by the Pakatan Harapan election programme to improve access to much-needed health services, lighten the cost of living burden, and improve people’s wellbeing,” he said.