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Monday August 19, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday August 19, 2013 MYT 10:07:48 AM
by christina chin
PETALING JAYA: Private medical practitioners are under greater financial strain due to costly insurance premiums and rising operational costs, said a senior medical practitioner.
Dr S.R. Manalan, who has been running his own clinic in Ipoh, Perak, for over 30 years, said general practitioners and specialists nationwide were forking out between RM3,300 to RM67,000 annually as premium payments for medical indemnity insurance, which is compulsory under the Medical Act.
Commenting on the Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) request for a 30% increase in consultation and procedural charges, Dr Manalan pointed out that the request, if approved by the Government, would not result in a corresponding hike in overall fees.
“Many people assume that hospitalisation fees and medication and services costs are the doctor’s fee, but this is not true.
“The doctor only receives a fee for consultation and for any procedures he may perform.
“The 30% we are asking for is for these, not for the overall fees, which is the higher amount,” said Dr Manalan, who is the MMA’s former president.
Since doctors’ fees are regulated by the Medical Act, they are not allowed to impose arbitrary increases in the fees, he said.
Citing an example, Dr Manalan said that a hospital patient whose doctor’s bill amounted to RM400 (RM100 for consultation fees and RM300 to perform a medical procedure) would need to pay an extra RM120 if there was a 30% increase.
The increase would not affect hospital fees for room, operating theatre, medication, nursing and other charges which would remain the same.
“The ‘big boys’ – namely hospital owners, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, managed-care organisations, third-party administrators and laboratories – contribute to the fees charged but this is seldom highlighted,” he said.
Dr Manalan said that a 30% rise was justified because doctors were consumers too.
“We, too, pay consumer rates for everything. On top of higher rental, minimum staff wages have increased to RM900 per month.
“What was the cost of a house or a car 10 years ago?
“So many doctors do social service by not charging the very poor and destitute, yet they are not even recognised,” he said.
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