LAHAD DATU: A senior doctor here has warned that a citizenship-for-rent scam is enabling pregnant foreigners to receive heavily subsidised medical treatment in the state.
He said district hospital staff had uncovered the scam by foreign patients, especially expectant mothers who were using local identity document to register for hospital treatment.
Tan revealed that the hospital’s staff became suspicious when a number of pregnant foreign women came back with the same local couple’s identification cards to register for prenatal as well as postnatal treatment.
"Some of them panicked and told the staff who questioned them that they had rented the identification cards from a local card holder for a small sum of money so that they can enjoy cheaper hospital fees as local," he said.
Tan said that although the hospital staff are required to prudently account for stocks of medicines as well as its facilities and expenses, the patient registration system, however, allows for abuse.
He said once the patients were accepted as locals, they are granted all the privileges that come with the status such as heavily subsidised treatment and stay at the hospital.
The hospital maternity ward’s fee for foreign women can go as high as RM1,000 while locals pay only RM30.
Said Tan: "There are cases of foreign women using someone else’s husband’s MyKad to register.
"Once they are registered as locals in the hospital, their babies when born can register as Sabahans.
"We have been reporting all such cases to the police for further action... I can’t recall the exact number of cases over the years, but it is a lot."
Tan made the comments when asked to reveal how many foreigners were being admitted for treatment and at what cost.
Burgeoning foreign population
Most seem to fall into the illegal immigrant bracket as registered foreign workers are not charged a high fee for treatment.
Under the Plantation Workers Act, foreign workers who produce a GL (guaranteed letter) from their employers at the hospital registration counter need only pay RM5 to enjoy the hospital’s medical services, Tan said.
Sabah has the highest number of foreigners seeking medical services due to its burgeoning foreign population.
According to government statistics, for every hundred patients registered at the various hospitals around the state, about a third are foreigners. Most are unable to pay their bills.
However, it was not all gloom for the district hospital which received a shot-in-the-arm from a charitable organisation.
The hospital was gifted with two haemodialysis machines and got a facelift for its forensic lab by the Che Yee Khor Moral Uplifting Society.
The hospital currently has 12 such machines and there are 48 diabetic patients who have to use them, Tan said.
Also present at the handing-over ceremony were Silam Member of Parliament, Salleh Kalbi.
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