Malaysia is offering their poorest residents free healthcare for 36 critical diseases.
There’s a lot of debate about what to do for healthcare in the US, but that debate has already been solved in the rest of the world. More and more countries are enacting universal healthcare systems, and even some of the poorest nations on Earth are seeing the benefits of public healthcare.
Malaysia, once a poor country in the South Pacific but now a rising global powerhouse, has decided to enact its own form of tax-funded healthcare for its poorest residents. As of January 1st, 2019, the residents in the bottom 40th percentile of income now get free medical coverage for 36 critical illnesses.
And these aren’t just specific medical conditions, either. Those 36 critical illnesses cover such conditions as hypertension, Alzheimer's, or Kidney failure. They’ll also cover required organ transplants like heart or lungs, or cover operations such as brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
Coverage is up to 8,000 Malaysian ringgits, or roughly $2,000 USD. It’ll also cover a hospital stay up to 14 days, which equates to an additional 700 ringgits in value (or about $170 USD).
“The Scheme also gives daily payments as income replacement in the event of hospitalisation for up to 14 days at RM50 per day or RM700 per year,” health minister Lim Guan Eng told the Malay Mail. “Coverage under the Scheme commences 1 January 2019, and the Scheme’s registration and customer support services will be in operation from 1 March 2019.”
To fund the new healthcare plan, Malaysia set aside 2 billion ringgits to cover 4.1 million people for the next 5 years. Those in the 40th percentile of income can apply for free online and receive a text message if they’ve been approved. There is no medical exam required.
On the downside, even $2,000 USD isn’t going to cover the whole cost of someone’s cancer treatment. Also, the program is only available for people aged 18-55, and most diseases occur to those over the age of 55. But it’s a start in a country that hasn’t had any healthcare coverage in its entire history.