Cost of living can be a concern for many Malaysians. According to a poll conducted by UCSI University, Malaysians are most worried about price hikes in groceries and food followed by utilities as well as petrol. As these are items that people use every day, expenses can accumulate and significantly impact our finances.
To help Malaysians save on essentials, the government offers free items, services and subsidies to eligible recipients from medical treatments to school books. Support can also be in the form of cash aid given by the government to individuals, businesses or organisations to reduce or even nullify the prices of items.
While these items may be free for some Malaysians, they do come with a cost that is borne by the government. In 2022, the Malaysia government allocated a total of RM80 billion for subsidies, which is the biggest amount ever. So, what are some of the things Malaysians can get for free and how much do they actually cost?
#1 Medical Treatment For Tuberculosis
Treatment for tuberculosis (TB) is free at government centres. Tuberculosis is a contagious disease caused by the bacterium ‘Mycobacterium tuberculosis’ which attacks the lungs.
Typically, patients with TB are treated with a combination of 3 to 4 kinds of oral medications that must be completed. Treatment duration usually lasts for a period of 6 to 12 months.
Some of the common medications used to treat TB include ethambutol, rifampin and isoniazid. Ethambutol has a recommended consumer price of RM352.50 for a pack of 500 tablets or RM0.70 per tablet as of 2022. Meanwhile, rifampin can cost up to RM196.00 for a pack of 1,000 capsules or RM0.20 per capsule. Isoniazid is priced at RM130.00 for a pack of 100 tablets or RM1.30 per tablet.
#2 Dental Care
Implemented back in 1957, school dental services including education on teeth maintenance, periodic screening, fillings, extraction, scaling and prophylaxis medicine are provided at government primary and secondary schools.
Regular checks are conducted by dental nurses and officers in the clinic within the school compound on the conditions of students’ teeth and appropriate treatments will be applied if necessary. Do note however that parents will have to provide consent for any dental treatment to take place.
All basic treatments are free of charge. Should students require dentures, crowns and orthodontic treatment, there will be fees involved. Dental treatments can be quite costly these days due to inflation.
Basic dental treatments and fees at public hospitals in Malaysia
Under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, private clinics can charge patients up to RM250 for simple extractions and up to RM300 for filling.
To strengthen children’s immunity against various diseases such as TB, measles and mumps, a range of vaccines are administered, some as early as birth. These vaccines are given for free at public hospitals.
Vaccination packages are available at private medical centres. A check online found that a similar package that consists of vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, Acellular Pertussis, hib, hepatitis B, polio, measles, mumps and rubella would cost RM800.
#4 Bus Services
The GoKL free bus service was introduced since 2012. It has 11 lines with 271 stops as of 2021:
- Green Line travels from KLCC to Bukit Bintang.
- Purple Line travels from Pasar Seni to Bukit Bintang.
- Red Line travels from Titiwangsa to KL Sentral.
- Blue Line travels from Titiwangsa to Bukit Bintang.
- Orange Line travels from Titiwangsa to MINDEF.
- Pink Line travels from LRT University to PPR Seri Pantai.
- Turquoise Line travels from Dato Keramat to Kelumpuk Bambu (Setiawangsa).
- Maroon Line travels from PPR Kampung Batu Muda to LRT Sentul.
- Chocolate Line travels from Seksyen 10 to LRT Sri Rampai.
- Parrot Green Line travels from Terminal Maluri to Sri Permaisuri.
- Grey Line travels from MRT Cochcrane to Bandar Tun Razak.
The free bus service by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) is convenient for tourists as it passes a few hotspots via the Green Line including the Pavilion Mall, the Grand Hyatt Hotel and the iconic Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC).
In addition, the bus routes also cover People’s Housing Projects in several lines, connecting residents to railway stations.
The normal bus fares for adults in Malaysia can go as high as RM5 nowadays.
#5 School Textbooks
Government school students don’t have to purchase textbooks. In addition, during the pandemic’s lockdown, students can download e-books from the KPM eTextbook Reader app to access books for free. Students don’t even need internet access to utilise the app.
Textbook fees for local secondary students at international schools can run up to RM2,400 for year 7 to 9 and RM2,000 for year 10 to 11.
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