Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 17, 2008

Health Ministry to study hospital charges

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:59 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and Fomca support the Health Ministry’s plan to review private hospital charges for room, equipment and medicine.
MMA said the charges should be uniform while Fomca proposed the ministry use existing mechanism within its purview to address the issue.
However, the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) merely expressed its willingness to listen to Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai’s recommendations but doubted that it would be easy to regulate the charges.
MMA president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said currently, such charges were not totally uniform as private hospitals set their own billing standard.
“We support the call to look into such charges so that we will see a more streamlined, affordable and equitable and uniform rates at the private hospitals,” he said yesterday.
“If the government regulates doctors’ fees, but does not regulate hospital charges, it is not going to be able to make medical treatment in the private sector affordable to consumers. Doctors’ fees form a very small fraction of the hospital bills,” he said.
Dr Khoo was commenting on the Health Minister’s remark that a committee would be set up to conduct a study on the issue of private hospital fees.
Liow said the ministry had a mechanism to control charges under the Private Hospital Act.
However, Dr Khoo said there must be a reasonable control of private hospital charges in view of the rising prices of medical equipment and drugs.
“While the minister’s call for a review of costs in private hospitals is a good idea, I would like to caution the people that there are various pricing depending on what type of surgery, equipment, facilities and medicine used.
“We can’t push to say that everybody must reduce prices because private hospitals providing five-star quality services and those with three-star quality services are not the same,” he added.
APHM vice-president Datuk Teddric Jon Mohr said the association would listen to the minister’s recommendations and share its concerns and ideas to come up with a solution.
“We are willing to sit down with the minister but private hospitals have to spend millions of ringgit on hidden costs. There are a lot of issues private hospitals have to deal with to maintain their standard.”
Pressed further if it was possible to make uniform charges of room, equipment and medicine at private hospitals, he said:
“It will be very difficult. For instance, I don’t think we could say that every private hospital can charge RM200 for in-house patients because different hospitals have different things.”
Fomca vice-president K. Koris said the association welcomed the minister’s concern but questioned the need to set up a committee to conduct a study on the matter.
He proposed that Liow use the mechanism within his ministry such as the National Patient Safety Council to look into the issue.

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