Ministry: Public hospital charges are ‘all in’

The Pakatan Harapan government, in its election manifesto, aimed to elevate health expenditure from 4% of GDP to 6%-7% of GDP.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Mi­­nis­try says charges imposed on patients in public hospitals were not just for drugs but for total treatment, including services.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said as such, it was not accurate to claim that certain cancer drugs cost more in public health facilities than in private hospitals.

“From what I understand, in general, treatment costs are much lower in general hospitals and the National Cancer Institute (IKN) compared with private hospitals,” he said after launching the World Federation of Neurological Societies (WFNS) Symposia 2018 here yesterday.

On Monday, The Star reported that patients referred from private hospitals to public hospitals were paying more for cancer treatment and drugs.

They had to pay RM400 for three breast cancer drugs – tamoxifen, which costs RM150 for 30 tablets in private hospitals, letrozole and anastrozole, which each costs RM250 in private hospitals.

An elderly patient had said that she was charged about RM700 for letrozole, consultation and blood test at the IKN and it was more than the charges in a private hospital.

She later asked IKN to refer her to Hospital Kuala Lumpur where she was charged a lower rate.

Following the report, Dr Lee said he would investigate the matter.

Asked if the ministry would reduce the brain drain in public hospitals by imposing a moratorium on private hospitals from pinching specialists, Dr Lee said it was important to train more specialists to serve not only in the cities but also semi-urban and rural areas.

Dr Lee earlier said that public hospitals were still short of neurosurgeons and would need another 40 or 50 more to meet the needs of the population, on top of the currently available 105 neurosurgeons.

There are 49 neurosurgeons in the public sector, with some in university hospitals, he said, adding that the specialists were found almost in equal percentage between public and private sectors.

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