KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians with little experience seeking treatment at a public hospital are pleasantly surprised by the high quality of service and huge discounts.
Many of them said they were not aware of how efficient the doctors were, and how vastly the fees were subsidised, until they took a family member there for treatment.
A retired engineer from the private sector said he only knew about this after accompanying his father-in-law, a government pensioner, for cancer treatment at the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) recently.
“My father-in-law was put through several tests and operated on by one the best specialists in the country. The ‘official’ bill for his treatment after a week came up to about RM1,066 but he paid nothing at all. It would have cost us at least RM25,000 in a private hospital.
“Across the ward was a retired journalist who paid about RM1,800 for extensive treatment received,” he said.
A manager who accompanied his mother to UMMC for outpatient treatment said he was taken aback to find out how well the hospital was managed.
“It was clean and well maintained. The numbering system for patients was also well organised, with the waiting time greatly reduced. It was on par with, if not better than the private hospital I go to,” he added.
Echoing this view was magazine editor Jan Yong, who said the public hospital he went to had “very good facilities and medicine”.
He said his family had earlier taken his mother to a private hospital after she complained of a severe abdominal pain.
After being admitted for 10 days and subjected to a battery of tests, the gastroenterologist was still not able to give a diagnosis, he said.
Unhappy, Yong transferred her to UMMC.
“One look at her and the specialist seemed to know what was wrong. and recommended surgery the next day.
“She spent the next two weeks in the intensive care unit which was well equipped,” he said.
Another private sector employee, who wanted to be known only as Brian, said services at government hospitals were now comparable to, if not better than that in private hospitals.
“It is the private hospitals which seem to take things for granted.
“Many of their staff are not courteous enough, although the hospitals charge exorbitant fees,” he added.
A woman, who wanted to be identified only as B, said her father who had colorectal cancer was taken to the palliative care unit of Hospital Kuching and warded for three nights earlier this year.
“He underwent several kidney procedures which would have cost almost RM10,000 in a private hospital. But he was billed for only RM30 for all three nights,” she said.
Yesterday, The Star reported about an emotional Facebook post by one Razali Raihayu who said he was grateful that an RM11,000 bill for his cancer-stricken father at Hospital Kuala Lumpur was reduced to RM31.80 after the government discount was applied.
He wrote that although his father, 71, died later the episode taught him to appreciate government healthcare services.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also shared Razali’s post expressing his hope that people will appreciate the healthcare services being provided.
Government servants, pensioners, the disabled and school students are among the many categories of people who are exempted from different forms of charges when treated at government health facilities.