Consumers unhappy with 'secrecy' over private healthcare charges

Consumers unhappy with 'secrecy' over private healthcare charges

PETALING JAYA - Consumers are unhappy that private healthcare charges are still being shrouded in secrecy, said Federation of Malaysian Consu­mers Association (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj.

"Will consumers only find out about the increase in specialist fees after they are slapped with a hefty bill?" he asked.

"The fees must be put on hospital websites so that consumers can compare healthcare charges. Now, consumers are paying '5-star rates' without knowing what it's for."

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said most of the professional fees submitted by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) in its latest proposal increased by 30 per cent from the last one.

"However, all medical practitioners in private hospitals have always adhered to the 13th Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services (Private Hospitals and Other Private Healthcare Facilities) Regulations 2006 for their professional fees," he added.

He said the ministry would add new clauses to the regulations to reduce any attempt by medical practitioners to manipulate the cost of procedures.

MMA president Datuk N.K.S. Tharmaseelan explained that the association was preparing a new, comprehensive fee schedule which would cover new procedures, such as advanced robotic and computer-assisted navigational surgery.

Dr Tharmaseelan also dismissed a claim that specialists earn RM150,000 (S$59,000) monthly, saying most specialists only earn an average of RM25,000 to RM30,000 per month.

On Aug 23, a reader from Kuala Lumpur claimed that a private specialist earns an average of RM150,000 per month and "have ways to fleece the patients".

Citing an example, he said an ENT surgeon could do an operation and charge for four separate procedures.

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