Access to healthcare

Migrant workers are not only discriminated against when it comes to salaries but also often lack access to basic social service provisions including health care.

A case study: Malaysia

To seek hospital treatment in Malaysia there is a basic charge of 1 ringgit to see a doctor and 5 ringgit to see a specialist.  For migrants those costs are higher.  Migrants must pay a minimum of 50 ringgit just to see a doctor, before any specialist services.

The deposit payable by Malaysians who require hospitalization varies between 15 and 1,100 RM. However, for migrant workers the same treatment costs between 800 and 2.200 RM as set by the government.

While the social security provisions for local workers are covered by the Malaysian Social Security Act, migrant workers are covered by the lesser Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952, which results in discrimination between migrant and local workers regarding their health  care costs.

For example, the Workmen's Compensation Act, unlike the Social Security Act does not provide for continuous regular support and assistance until death for a worker who is a victim of an industrial accident or occupational disease. The Workmen’s Compensation Act only provides for a one-off payment to the victim and/or their dependents where death has resulted from the injury/disease, that is a lump sum equal to sixty months' earnings or 18,000 ringgit, whichever is the less.

In addition, the maximum amount of fees and cost that is payable by an employer under the Workmen’s Compensation Act, for ward charges (including surgical ward) is limited to 300 ringgit, for operation fees it is limited to 250 ringgit and for X-Ray Fees it is limited to 100 ringgit. 

The rates stipulated are outrageously low given the fact that government hospitals and clinics charge migrant workers first class rates, and the lowest deposit for a migrant worker who needs to be hospitalized is 400 ringgit.