Improving Health Care Coverage Equity And Financial Protection Through A Hybrid System Malaysias Experience
Author: Ravindra P. Rannan-Eliya, Chamara Anuranga, Adilius Manual, Sondi Sararaks, Anis S. Jailani, Abdul J. Hamid, Izzanie M. Razif, Ee H. Tan, Ara Darzi
Malaysia has made substantial progress in providing access to health care for its citizens and has been more successful than many other countries that are better known as models of universal health coverage. Malaysia’s health care coverage and outcomes are now approaching levels achieved by member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Malaysia’s results are achieved through a mix of public services (funded by general revenues) and parallel private services (predominantly financed by out-of-pocket spending). We examined the distributional aspects of health financing and delivery and assessed financial protection in Malaysia’s hybrid system. We found that this system has been effective for many decades in equalizing health care use and providing protection from financial risk, despite modest government spending. Our results also indicate that a high out-of-pocket share of total financing is not a consistent proxy for financial protection; greater attention is needed to the absolute level of out-of-pocket spending. Malaysia’s hybrid health system presents continuing unresolved policy challenges, but the country’s experience nonetheless provides lessons for other emerging economies that want to expand access to health care despite limited fiscal resources.