Wednesday, March 05, 2014

D-Day on doc’s fees

KUALA LUMPUR: Private hospitals and clinics will know tomorrow whether they can increase, with immediate effect, their fees for medical consultation and procedures.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam will make the announcement after the ministry's post-cabinet meeting.
This was the response of Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah when asked to comment on a local news portal's report today on the possibility of a fee hike following the amended 13th Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 which was gazetted on Dec 16 last year.
"The minister will inform the media tomorrow on the ministry's stand on the issue," he said.
Doctors in the private sector have not had an increase in their fees for the past 15 years and neither has the ministry drawn up any new schedule of fees for them.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) had last year asked for a 30% increase in consultation and procedural charges, but had to put it on hold following a public outcry.
MMA president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan said today that doctors needed an increase in view of the rise in living and operating costs.
"It's been a long time since the last increase," he added.
General practitioners get between RM30 and RM50 per consultation while specialists charge between RM50 and RM80.
Tharmaseelan had earlier been quoted as saying that it was a misconception that doctors were rich and greedy.
"Many doctors are scraping the barrel with the rising utility bills, rentals and salaries (for staff). Quite a few have even quit practice as it's too expensive to maintain a clinic," he said.
On average, the operating cost for a general practitioner to run a clinic in Kuala Lumpur is about RM20,000 per month.
Tharmaseelan said a general practitioner, for instance, charges between RM45 and RM50, including medication, for a patient having cough and cold.
He said a fee increase is necessary for doctors to cover their "basic costs" in view of mandatory rulings like paying minimum wage.
Now, doctors are also required to have medical indemnity insurance, hire radiographers and engage waste disposal contractors for their clinics, he added.

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