Foreign workers owe Malaysian public health institutions US$8.2m in medical fees

By Lee Yen Mun | Source: The Star
Foreign workers owe public health institutions a staggering 26 million ringgit (US$8.2 million) in medical fees, said Home Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said many foreigners did not settle their medical bills at public hospitals. Due to this, the government would review policies for insurance packages and medical coverage for such workers.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the study would be part of an overall review of the Government’s guidelines for the employment of foreign workers and would be conducted by the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.

“We want to review the guidelines to ensure that they (foreign workers) adhere to Immigration requirements, and are also given protection (such as) higher insurance payments, housing and job security.

“We have to accord them their basic needs as we don’t want Malaysia to be accused of not being fair to foreign workers,” he said after attending the ministry’s monthly staff gathering here yesterday.

To curb the abuse of work permits, the minister said the committee would also review security bonds that held employers accountable for their foreign workers.

The minister said discussions were being held with the United Arab Emirates Government on its policy involving foreign workers, adding that the country had a 4.6 million-strong foreign workforce.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the employment guidelines review would compare systems being used in other countries, including Singapore, and countries from where Malaysia sourced its foreign manpower.