Doctors’ group assures patients will still pay the same in private clinics

Jerry Choong
The Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia has confirmed that private practitioners will not hike their fees. ― Malay Mail pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — The public can breathe a sigh of relief as the Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia has confirmed that private practitioners will not hike their fees.

Its deputy president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said the overall cost per visit by each patient will remain unchanged unchanged despite the gazzetting of new general practitioners (GP) fees, following the Health Ministry's town hall session with them earlier this week.

“It was clearly mentioned at the meeting that despite an increase in consultation fees the total cost of the treatment encounter, including consultation as well as medication and procedures, will remain the same,” he said in a statement.

Dr Raj Kumar explained that the current fee guideline for GPs in shop-lot private clinics came into effect in 1992, but as a mere guideline by the Malaysian Medical Association and not as a law by the ministry.

“In 2006 the ministry incorporated these fees into the new Private Healthcare and Facilities Act, without any revisions.

“However in 2013 the consultation fee for GPs working in private hospitals was revised to RM35 to RM125,” he said, adding that this did not affect shop-lot private clinics which still remains at RM10 to RM35.

Dr Raj Kumar said this discrepancy led to request from doctors for more streamlined and consistent fees for all GPs, as those in both private hospitals and shop-lot private clinics had the same qualifications and did the same amount of work.

“With increasing medicines cost, staff salary, rental and other overhead costs, GPs in shop-lot private clinics practicing by themselves have been unable to absorb these costs any longer without any help from others,” he said.

The ministry's Pharmacy Division which was also present in the town hall meeting had also mentioned medicine prices will soon be regulated and controlled by the government, to the benefit of consumers and the sick.

“Patients who feel they will be able to get cheaper medicine from external pharmacies may consult their doctor and get a prescription to obtain them from those pharmacies rather than the clinic or hospital's dispensaries,” said Dr Raj Kumar.

He also said doctors have seen a decrease in prices with the introduction of the National Health Financing System, allowing them to concentrate mainly on consultation, examination and procedures since the option to collect medicines from either clinic dispensaries or external pharmacies is up to the patient.

“As a result the GP's total encounter fee will not increase because doctors will now charge their deserved consultation fee while the price of medicine will remain competitive and determined by market forces,” Dr Raj Kumar said.

Deputy director-general of health (medical) Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar was quoted saying the revision of charges is necessary as the last time it was done was in 2006.

Dr Azman said the paper on the proposal will be submitted to Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad next, and indicated that the implementation of the new rates could take place as early as January.

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