THE increasing cost of healthcare in private hospitals will prompt many middle class Malaysians without medical insurance to turn to government hospitals where the cost is lower.
The other negative side is that the premium for medical insurance is raised at the whims and fancies of insurance companies. I am not sickly but I am talking as a policy holder.
I am prompted to write this after my daughter paid a whopping RM463 for a simple ear checkup and medication at an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist’s clinic at a private hospital in the Klang Valley recently.
My daughter woke up in the morning with pain around her right ear. Thinking that her ear was infected, she decided to see an ENT specialist who told her there was no infection in either ear but there was a slight inflammation of a lymph node behind the right ear.
My daughter was prescribed a cream to apply, antibiotics for five days and medicine for pain.
The breakdown of the charges was RM250 for consultation and RM213 for medication.
This was in contrast with the Malaysian equivalent of RM109.82 I paid as consultation fees and medication for a checkup, coincidentally also on my right ear, by an ENT specialist at a medical centre in Manila recently while I was on an assignment there. I was diagnosed as having an infection in my right ear.
The breakdown of the bill was RM55 for consultation and RM54.82 for medication (antibiotic ear drops and capsules for pain) that I had to purchase from the pharmacy with the prescription. The hospital does not dispense medicine.
The charges shocked me as, being a foreigner, I had thought I would have to pay a heavy bill. What surprised me even more was that I wasn’t charged for checking my blood pressure and temperature which was done by a registered nurse.
I would have had to pay for this if I were seeking treatment in a private hospital in the Klang Valley.
The Philippines has a minimum wage equivalent to RM1,200, compared to the RM900 in Malaysia.
The service right from registration to the time I stepped out of the medical centre was excellent. To add icing on the cake, I was even offered a hot drink before I left.
The RM250 my daughter paid for consultation was RM70 in excess of the Health Ministry’s cap of RM180 for specialist’s consultation fees. She is fortunate as the company she works for will reimburse her for the charges she incurred.
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