Materia Medica Malaysiana

December 6, 2007

SLAMMED: Exorbitant charges, unnecessary tests, coverage restrictions

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:44 am

NST: Health minister concerned as patients query RM3,000 ‘how are you?’ bills.
PUTRAJAYA: Imagine, you’re in hospital and the doctor comes around 15 times a day to ask “how are you?”
Now think about the bill. At RM200 per visit, you end up forking out RM3,000 a day, just on consultations – needed or otherwise.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told the cabinet about two patients who experienced this and the ministers were not happy.
The government, he said, was concerned about the exorbitant charges at some private hospitals and the “unnecessary” tests they recommended.
“Some doctors feel that the investigations are necessary. These are, however, debatable and contentious.
“The public has the right to lodge complaints with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) if they are unhappy with the services or ethics of doctors,” Dr Chua said after a meeting with the MMA yesterday.
The MMC, he said, could issue warnings, suspend doctors or de-register them if they were guilty of committing an offence.
But he added that it was inevitable that the cost of healthcare would rise because of the increasing cost of medication, equipment, and the introduction of information technology into hospitals.
He also said that the Health Ministry’s enforcement unit had shut down 29 clinics for various offences and caught 19 bogus doctors.
Enforcement will be beefed up next year when 30 officers are added to the current 70-man team.
On the meeting with MMA, he said the ministry agreed that insurance companies should not limit doctors’ fees and tests in their policies.
The insurers are subject to the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and must register with the ministry.
“They are subject to clauses under the law… this includes the services by doctors to patients covered by insurance companies. We feel the clinical judgment of medical practitioners should not be compromised by these companies.”

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