I REFER to the recent move by the Pakatan Government to deregulate the consultation fees of private doctors. The Health Minister clearly does not understand how things work in a free market, but I hope he will see quickly how this move will contribute further to the rise in cost of living and the woes of Malaysians in the M40 and B40 groups.
The Health Minister has said the doctor must display the fees and it is up to patients to decide whether they want to continue using his/her service. It sounds good on paper, but the reality is the patient will have to use the service, as he or she would be too sick to go hunting for other doctors at that moment. And when this patient needs to see a doctor again, the fees at another clinic would not be less or significantly less because all doctors, except for a very small minority, would be charging more or less the same amount.
And since the fees are not regulated, you can be sure that they will keep going up with the most flimsy of excuses. It is just like the cost of a bowl of noodles; you go to most shops in Petaling Jaya, where I live, and it will cost RM6 for a standard bowl. There’s no point in looking around for a place that offers it at a cheaper price. There are shops already selling noodles at RM6.50 per bowl, and it will be just a matter of time before the others start charging the higher price. And then a few will start charging RM7, and you can guess what will happen next.
Ironically, the doctors are not the ones asking for the fees to be deregulated. They just want some reasonable changes to the current fee structure which has not been revised for some time.
Since winning GE14, the Pakatan Harapan government has not done or achieved much in terms of reducing the cost of living, to the ire of the majority of Malaysian wage earners and those who voted for it.
And if this is not bad enough, they want to pour more gasoline into the fire by deregulating the consultation fees of private doctors. What a real disappointment of a government, which many Malaysians had pinned their hopes on!
CHEW CHEE KEONG
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