KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association has assured that general practitioners (GPs) in stand-alone clinics will still charge the low-income B40 population affordable fees even if the fees are raised when harmonised with the fees of doctors in private hospitals.
MMA president Dr Mohamed Namazie Ibrahim said that although the harmonisation of the fee schedule will mean an increase from between RM10 and RM35 per consultation to between RM30 and RM125, there is a fee structure that GPs will have to adhere to.
Under the RM30 to RM125 fee structure, RM30-RM50 may be charged for simple consultation (up to 10 minutes), RM51 to RM80 for intermediate consultation (up to 20 minutes) and RM81 to RM125 for complex consultation (more than 20 minutes).
“The harmonisation will be crucial to the sustainability of clinics nationwide and will also help address the issues GPs are facing with Third Party Administrators (TPAs),” he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Mohamed Namazie claimed that there were corporations that were willing to pay the high fees charged by private hospitals but were penny-pinching on GPs’ fees, and the government had been delaying the harmonisation even though the Health Ministry had agreed that it was necessary.
“GPs in the country have been subsidising the healthcare of large and profitable corporations that engage TPAs.
“These TPA’s suppress the GP fees to make a profit for themselves. Several foreign TPAs have come in to feed upon this lucrative business. One TPA that was owned by Khazanah (Nasional Bhd) was sold to a foreign investor,” he said.
He added that GPs in Malaysia are only asking for the harmonisation and gazetting of the consultation fee that was agreed upon in 2013.
The consultation fee was gazetted for medical officers working in private hospitals under Schedule 13 but was overlooked for GPs working in private clinics under Schedule 7 of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services (Private Medical Clinics and Private Dental Clinics) Regulations 2006, he said.
The current fees of RM10 to RM35 for GPs in private clinics has not been revised since 1992, he said.
“Medical officers at private hospitals who have the same qualifications as GPs based in shoplot clinics, have been charging between RM30 to RM125 per consultation while GPs in clinics are still charging consultation fees of 27 years ago,” he said.
Dr Mohamed Namazie said easy accessibility, overcrowding at hospitals, shorter waiting time and lower fees are reasons why most people would prefer to go to a clinic for health checks or treatment of minor health issues but the current fee schedule is making it almost impossible for GPs to continue operating their clinics.
“Last year alone, over 300 clinics in the country closed down,” he said.
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