SEVERAL patients seeking treatment at Hospital Lam Wah Ee’s traditional Chinese medicine centre are unhappy with the steep increase in the medical fees come Thursday.
A regular patient, who wished to remain anonymous, described the steep hike as ‘ridiculous’.
Under the new charges, she would have to pay RM51 for consultation, registration, acupuncture treatment and moxibustion (heat therapy), instead of RM21 now.
“For now, I pay RM1 for registration and another RM20 for acupuncture, consultation and moxibustion.
“I feel the hospital should not deviate from its original aim of being a non-profit organisation that helps the needy.
“Most of the patients are senior citizens, or those with chronic pain that need regular follow-up sessions.
“The new fees would put a strain on our finances,” she said.
Starting Thursday, the centre will impose charges on each acupuncture session (RM20), cupping session (RM5) and moxibustion (RM10), in addition to the RM20 consultation fee and RM1 registration fee.
For now, a patient only needs to pay RM20 consultation fee and enjoy all the treatment and services (acupuncture, cupping and moxibustion).
For medication fee, two packets of herbs cost RM15 and an additional pack will cost RM10 each.
The dermatology cream will cost RM6 and RM60 for seven packets of herbs to treat dermatology related problems.
Another patient Lye Tuek Su, 62, hopes the hospital would reconsider the move in view of the current economic situation.
“I come here for acupuncture treatment as my hand is aching.
“I would prefer they stop increasing the fee. Everything is pricey nowadays,” said the housewife, who has to pay more in order to recover fully.
Housewife Noor Laila Intan, 51, has been travelling here from Changlun, Kedah, with her son Muhd Afiq Amin, 18, to seek acupuncture treatment. Her son became disabled after getting high fever three years ago.
“We have been here more than five times since March.
“I have seen improvement in my son’s conditions and he is getting better every day.
“We used to pay RM21 for the treatment but I was told that we’ll have to pay more starting May.
“I do not mind paying more as long as my son gets better,” said the mother of six.
Hospital’s Chinese Medicine Committee chairman Loh Lean Hoe said they have to increase the fees after suffering losses of close to RM1.35mil in the past two years.
He said the losses incurred were RM752,000 in 2017 and RM613,000 last year.
“We have to revise the system and increase the fees,” he said.
Loh said the traditional Chinese medicine centre is a charitable unit without any subsidy from the government.
“Our monthly expenses is around RM170,000. We have two main sources of income – public donations and rents collected from a number of properties,” he said.
Loh said the increase in herb prices was another reason for the hike in medical fees.
“We give patients herbs instead of drugs and are subsidising around RM20 per patient,” he said.
The traditional Chinese medicine centre opens from Monday to Saturday from 9am to 12.15pm and from 1.45pm to 5pm except on Wednesday where it opens from 9am to 12.15pm only.