Materia Medica Malaysiana

February 5, 2007

IRB Decision Causing Patients To Lose Out, MMA Says

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:53 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Bernama) — Many patients in the country will lose out following an Inland Revenue Board (IRB) decision in December not to give tax exemptions on professional indemnity insurance paid by private doctors.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin told reporters this.
He said the decision meant that patients, especially those with poor background, would be denied access to compensation should a malpractice occur.
“The IRB has refused to allow private doctors to claim payments for indemnity insurance as a legitimate expense probably because they are not compulsory,” he said.
Professional indemnity insurance is compulsory for high-end hospitals but not for low-end hospitals or clinics.
Speaking after chairing the MMA council meeting here, Dr Teoh said insurance premiums should be considered as a legitimate expense because they were meant to protect patients.
If premiums paid were not exempted from taxes, many doctors would shy away from getting the insurance, hence giving less choices for patients from poor background who had to seek treatment at low-end hospitals, he said.
He said indemnity insurance was also not compulsory for private doctors in other countries but their governments gave tax exemptions to those who got themselves covered.
Adding salt to the wound, he said, the Medical Protection Society which runs the indemnity insurance scheme, recently raised its premium by at least 16 per cent.
“According to the latest information from London, the rate has been increased for Malaysia. For some disciplines, it has been raised by as much as 18 per cent.
“For high risk occupations such as obstetric care, it has gone up to between RM32,000 and RM36,000 per annum. This is high for doctors and patients in Malaysia,” he said.
Dr Teoh said the cost of acquiring an indemnity insurance had gone up by 20 to 35 per cent for most doctors following the IRB decision and premium hike.
With doctors shying away from getting themselves covered, the MMA was concerned that it would hamper efforts to make Malaysia as a health tourism destination.
This was because people would not seek treatment here if they were not protected, Dr Teoh said.
“What MMA is keen to do now is to intervene and lobby the government so that such premiums are considered as a legitimate expense to merit a tax exemption by the IRB,” said Dr Teoh.

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