The Malaysian government has announced a free national health insurance scheme for the low income, at an initial cost of RM2 billion (US$481 million).
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the B40 (Bottom 40 per cent) National Protection Scheme, which will begin on Jan 1, will provide coverage against 36 critical illnesses. The payouts will be up to RM8,000 over a period which will be announced in due course.
Under the scheme, there will also be income replacement payments of RM50 per day for up to 14 days, or RM700 a year for hospitalisation.
“This scheme is a significant step taken by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Government to establish a comprehensive social safety net from the aspect of inclusive health insurance and takaful (syariah compliant) coverage for low-income groups for free,” said the finance minister.
He added that the insurance scheme, which is the first of its kind in Malaysia, is guided by the PH manifesto to “improve access to much-needed health services, lighten the cost of living burden and improve the people’s wellbeing”.
Targeted recipients between the ages of 18 and 55 will be covered for a period of five years. More than four million households are expected to benefit from the scheme.
The PH government has announced a slew of measures this week to help ease the burden of rising living costs.