PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry will gather feedback from all stakeholders and explain the reason for deregulating private doctors' consultation fees after various parties expressed concerns over a possible hike in healthcare costs as a result of the move, says Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic).
The Health Minister said the ministry will engage with all stakeholders, consumers and doctors alike.
"We will explain the SOP (standard operating procedure). For instance, the doctor has to display the fees and it is up to patients to decide if they want to continue with the service.
"If doctors overcharge, no one will go for treatment there. It is important that we explain it to clear all the confusion," he said in a press conference after the ministry's Innovation Day celebration here on Monday (Dec 9).
Dzulkefly said that in any policy, there is a positive and negative and the ministry had studied the matter before announcing it.
On Friday (Dec 6), Dzulkefly announced that the Cabinet had decided to deregulate fee structures meaning that doctors (including specialists) and dentists will soon get to fix their own prices.
No date has been announced on when this will start, as the regulations on the fees need to be amended first.
The move came about after general practitioners in standalone clinics had protested about their fees of RM10 to RM35, which had not been revised since 1992.
Doctors at private hospitals with similar qualifications, however, have been charging between RM30 and RM125 per consultation since 2013.
However, the government decided to open up the market and allowed all private doctors, dentists and specialists to set their own fees.
Following the announcement, The Star reported that the Cabinet’s move to allow private doctors and specialists to set their consultation fees has shocked Malaysians, consumers and employers alike, who are worried about the possibility of rising healthcare costs.
Citizens' Health Initiative member Dr Chee Heng Leng said the GPs had been asking for their fees to be adjusted but the Cabinet instead opted to free the market for all private doctors.
She said consumer groups and the public were caught unaware as there was hardly any consultations.
She said that if private doctors increased their fees too high, more patients would turn to public healthcare and insurance premiums might increase.
Others have expressed concern that doctors could act as a cartel and fix a high consultation fee among themselves.
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