Private Doctors’ Fees May Cost at Least Three Times More Next Year

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Proposal to raise private doctors’ fees from between RM10 and RM35 to between RM35 and RM125.

A visit to the doctor at private clinics nationwide could cost you at least three times as much next year.

The general practitioners’ charges of between RM10 and RM35 are to be increased to between RM35 and RM125.

The increase was agreed to at a town hall session on ‘Stakeholders Consultation on the Proposed Revision of General Practitioners’ Charges’, held at the Health Ministry on Monday (Aug 27).

Speaking to reporters after moderating the session, deputy director-general of health (medical) Datuk Dr Azman Abu Bakar said the revision of charges was due as the last time this was done was in 2006.

He said the proposal to review the rate was supported by medical practitioners and consumer organisations.

“The more complex one’s illness, the higher the consultation charge will be. The ceiling price for the consultation charge is RM125,” he said.

Bernama

Dr Azman said the town hall session was the last session before he presented the paper on the proposed revision to Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

“The Health Minister will then submit the proposed revision of general practitioners’ charges to the Attorney General’s Chambers and, if all goes well, it will then be presented to the Cabinet for endorsement,” he added.

Dr Azman did not rule out the possibility that the new charges would be implemented at the beginning of next year.

He said the ministry had also conducted discussions with various groups on the matter.

“Today, we gathered all the stakeholders – not only the doctors who run their own clinics – but non-governmental organisations and consumer groups as well.

“This is to ensure that the revision of the general practitioners’ charges is done fairly,” he said.

It is learnt that private doctors’ consultation fees in Malaysia are among the cheapest in the Asean region. It is about RM80 in Vietnam, RM100 in Indonesia and RM120 in Singapore.

Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association activist Datuk Nadzim Johan said it was timely to review the consultation fees in view of the high cost of living.

Zulfadhli Zaki/Sunpix

“We should be fair because doctors are also working people and need an income. It is something that should be supported.”

Although the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) agrees it is timely to review the consultation fees of private medical practitioners, it warns against too great an increase.

Fomca deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said he welcomed it because doctors were only charging RM10 to RM35, which was low.

But, he said the cost of medication was too high and should be reviewed.

“These days, medicines alone can come up to more than RM100, depending on whether its generic or branded.

He said a 30 to 50 percent hike in consultation fees was reasonable, but anything more would burn a hole in patients’ pockets.

He added that this could not be applied to all private clinics, as rural folk would not be able to afford it.

”The fees should be in line with the demographics, location and the services/facilities available at a particular clinic.

“This is a major concern among many because medical treatment these days are becoming unaffordable for the lower income groups and people in the rural areas. 

“Fomca hopes that the fee range is made affordable for all,” he said.

He added that doctors should consider making an exception for those who could not afford to pay.

“This proposal must be studied carefully and only implemented because we do not want patients who cannot afford the fees to resort to other methods, such a traditional or home remedies. Or even worst not seek medical help at all.”

He said even in urban areas consultation fees of more than RM80 or RM100 would be a burden for patients.