Labels for RM1 healthcare

Finger on the pulse: Subramaniam chatting with mothers with children in tow who are seeking treatment at the Seberang Jaya Health Clinic in Seberang Jaya.

IT costs just RM1 for treatment and medicine at a government health clinic but do the patients know how much the medicine that they get actually costs?

To enable these patients to know the value of the medicine they received, the Health Ministry is now labelling the actual cost of all the medication it gives out, said minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

He gave an example of a patient diagnosed with high cholesterol, diabetes and joint pain who received treatment and collected six types of medication from the Seberang Jaya health clinic in Seberang Prai.

“Based on the label on the cost of medicine, the patient received medication worth RM35 from our clinic by just paying RM1. If he buys the medicine outside, it might cost 30% more.

“A general practitioner could charge him about RM100 for the same medicine,” Subramaniam told reporters after visiting the clinic on Tuesday.

He said the Government subsidised between RM49 and RM69 per patient for their medical costs, which includes the consultation fee, blood test, medication and other services, when they receive treatment in a government clinic.

“We are charging them RM1 but they could get full services such as consultation, lab test, X-ray, medication and other services. These services actually cost an average of RM50 to RM70,” he added.

He said the Government was providing this subsidy to help the poor as they could not afford treatment at private hospitals.

Subramaniam also said the Government would absorb any increase in the cost of medicine from its suppliers due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

He said GST was not imposed on any healthcare services supplied by the government but suppliers might charge additional for transportation of the medicine.

“We forecast that there will be a slight increase of 2% to 3% in cost but we will absorb it and not pass the burden to the people,” he said.

Subramaniam said the Government had built many health clinics throughout the country such as the Seberang Jaya health clinic which provides holistic services to 600 to 800 patients daily.

He later visited stroke patient Pawanchik Ahmad, 79, who is currently receiving domiciliary care at his house in Lengkok Tuna in Seberang Jaya.

He said 160 government health clinics were now providing such a service which the ministry launched in July last year.

“The service is free. A well-trained multi-disciplinary team of medical officer, nurse, medical assistant and supporting staff is deployed to the patient’s house once every fortnight to teach family members and carers the correct method of taking care of the patient at home.

“This service is good as the patient could be discharged from the hospital sooner and it could reduce congestion at the hospital,” Subramaniam said.

He said 1,235 patients had received the service from July last year to March this year.

“The majority of them are senior citizens, and most of the patients suffer from stroke, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy and cancer,” he added.

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