Ministry to gather feedback over doctors’ consultation fees

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry will gather feedback from all stakeholders and explain the reason for deregulating private doctors’ consultation fees, following concern over a possible healthcare cost increase.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, said the ministry would engage with stakeholders, consumers and doctors on the issue.

“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 the confusion,” he said after the ministry’s Innovation Day celebration here yesterday.

Dzulkefly said as in all policies, there would be good and down sides and the ministry had thought through this.

On Friday, the minister announced that the Cabinet had decided to deregulate the fee structures, which meant that doctors (including specialists) and dentists will soon get to fix their own fees.

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 have been charging between RM30 and RM125 per consultation since 2013.

Following the announcement, The Star reported that the Cabinet’s move had shocked Malaysians, consumers and employers alike, who were worried about the possibility of rising healthcare costs.

Citizens’ Health Initiative member Dr Chee Heng Leng had said that 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 unawares as there was hardly any consultation.

Dr Chee said that if private doctors increased their fees by a big amount, 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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