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N Garden Sheds Enterprise
N Garden Sheds Enterprise JM0621850-U

Medical cover rule

26-Nov-2010

PUTRAJAYA: All foreign workers employed in Malaysia must be covered by medical insurance from Jan 1, under a new government ruling.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the move was to help resolve hefty unpaid hospital bills by foreign workers, which year to date, stood at some RM18 million.

If not addressed, the amount could drastically spike, considering the increasing number of foreign workers coming into the country.

There are now over three million foreign workers in the country, employed mainly in the construction, plantation, manufacturing and services sectors.

Less than half of the workers are covered by workmen’s compensation schemes.

Under the new ruling, a foreign worker must have a medical insurance coverage with an annual premium of RM120.

“The government has incurred costs because some foreigners, who had sought treatment at government hospitals, left without settling their bills, or were only able to make partial payments,” Liow told reporters after opening the ministry’s management conference here yesterday.

“With the medical insurance coverage, we hope this problem can be overcome.” The minister said it would be the employers responsibility to submit a copy of the insurance policy when renewing the work permit of the existing foreign workers. Employers hiring new foreign workers, meanwhile, would have to enclose a copy of the medical insurance for their prospective employees when applying for a work permit.

The ministry had since the middle of last year asked that public hospitals ensure that foreign workers seeking treatment pay a higher deposit than that imposed on Malaysians, and to present a guarantee letter from their employer for payment of the hospital bills incurred by them. Last year, hospitals under the Health Ministry were allocated RM756.4 million to purchase medicines alone, compared with RM677.3 million in 2008. In the last five years (2005 to 2009), foreign workers left RM64 million in unpaid healthcare bills. Of this, 19 per cent was for care at public hospitals.


When contacted, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) vice-president A. Ramadass said while the government had indicated that premiums for the foreign workers’ medical insurance would “not be significantly more expensive for employers to provide as it translated to just an additional RM3 per month per foreign worker”, it would only be principally right for the premiums to be fully borne by the foreign workers.

This was because even local employees were not given the privilege.

“For local workers, unless it is stated in their collective agreement that hospitalisation is borne by their employers, they are not covered.” MEF executive secretary Shamsudin Bardan said the federation had previously discussed with the Health Ministry and had agreed that the foreign workers bear the insurance premium cost. He added that MEF’s stand was that those in the plantation sector and maids were to be excluded from the scheme.

Mandating private health insurance for foreign workers was one of the six entry point projects identified for the Healthcare National Key Economic Area (NKEA) under the Economic Transformation Programme.



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N Garden Sheds Enterprise (JM0621850-U)
169A, Jalan Seri Impian 1, Taman Impian Emas, Skudai, 81300 Johor.

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