On the face of it, it is a good thing - but importantly it must be the employer who should be liable to pay for these medical insurance not the employer.
But then migrant workers are already covered by the Workmen's Compensation Act - one wonders whether the benefits provided under this Act is sufficient or not to cover the healthcare costs of migrant workers. In Malaysia, foreigners (including documented migrants) who go to government clinics/hospitals are generally charged the 1st class rate, and one wonders whether the amount claimable under the Workmen's Compensation Act is sufficient. If not, then the Act need to be amended so that it will cover all hospital/medical charges - not the introduction of another new medical insurance.
Himalayan News ServiceSource : Network of Action for Migrants
KATHMANDU: The Malaysian government will make medical insurance mandatory for migrant workers beginning January 1, Malaysian Deputy Human Resource Minister Maznah Mazlan told Star, a Malaysian daily.
The medical insurance scheme will affect over four lakh Nepali workers in Malaysia. “It will definitely affect Nepalis, but we are not sure how. We are analyzing the policy,” said Minister for Labour and Transport Management Mohamed Aftab Alam. “I will comment on it after consulting experts,” he told this daily over phone.
Malaysian government’s move comes in the wake of many foreigners leaving government hospitals with unpaid bills amounting to $ 6.7 million. As per the policy, even the old workers are required to get medical insurance done before renewing their work permits.
As per the insurance policy, each worker will have to pay annual insurance premium of $ 38 i.e. more than $ 3 per month. Average monthly earning of a Nepali worker in Malaysia is $ 175.
Authorities dealing with foreign employment term Malaysian government’s move a step in the right direction. “I welcome the policy which protects workers from health hazards,” said Mohan Krishna Sapkota, Director General at Department of Foreign Employment.
Nepal government sends workers for overseas jobs only after ensuring Rs 5 lakh medical insurance for them but illegal migrant workers obviously go without any insurance. “Malaysian government’s policy will include even them,” he said. However, he did not elaborate on the financial burden on the workers. “I cannot say more without analyzing risks and benefits,” he added.
Malaysia is among the top destination countries hiring Nepali workers. Of the 294,094 Nepali workers going abroad last year, 113,982 went to Malaysia. As many as 42,454 Nepalis have already found jobs in Malaysia in the first four months of the current fiscal year.- The Himalayan Times, 30/11/2010, Medical insurance must for Malaysia migrants- Up to four lakh Nepalis to be affected