Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 16, 2008

Health ministry to check on private hospital charges deemed excessive

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:08 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry will review private hospitals’ charges for room, equipment and medicine, which many have said are excessive.
Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said he would instruct the director-general to set up a committee to conduct a thorough study on the issue of private hospitals’ fees.
He said the ministry had a mechanism to control the charges under the Private Hospital Act and that currently only doctors’ fees were regulated.
He also said he would meet the Malaysian Medical Association, Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia and consumers associations to get their feedback.
“When I say that the ministry will review the fees, it does not mean that we want to limit the hospital fees,” Liow said.
“Don’t get me wrong, but there are some hospitals that are reasonable with their charges because of their five-star-quality services, but some are exorbitant.”
Liow also said the Government only regulated certain charges and that it would not be easy to regulate all the charges as some patients preferred to stay in luxurious rooms.
He urged the public to complain to the ministry if they were not satisfied with their hospital bills.
“I will set up an avenue for the public to lodge complaints and I will make sure that there is a proper mechanism to address the problem,” he said.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chief Datuk Michael Chong said he often received requests from patients for his help to appeal to hospitals to reduce charges.
He said some of the cases involved RM20,000 to RM50,000, especially surgery cases.
“I advise patients to demand itemised billing from hospitals, so they can dispute the charges if they feel that they are unreasonable,” he said.
However, he said patients who requested for extra services such as deluxe rooms should not complain about the extra charges.
National Consumer Complaints Centre director Darshan Singh said the review was a timely move as medical bills have been escalating.
“The prices are inflating and this is also probably because of involvement of insurance companies,” he said.
Muslim Consumers Association project director Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin lauded the ministry’s plan and said private hospitals should have some social obligations.
“Some of their profit must go back to society through discounts,” he said.

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