KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 – The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today advised physicians against undercutting their professional charges, after Putrajaya decided not to control private medical practitioners’ consultation fees anymore.
“Undercutting will only compromise on professional services,” said MMA president Dr. N Ganabaskaran in a statement today.
“Doctors must emphasise on quality-patient-centred care at all times and charge reasonably,” added the head of Malaysia’s largest group of doctors.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced earlier today Cabinet’s decision to allow general practitioners (GPs), dentists, and specialists in private clinics and hospitals to set their own consultation fees.
The landmark decision to deregulate private medical practitioners’ consultation fees came 13 years after they were legislated in 2006 under fee schedules in Schedule 7 (for private medical and dental clinics) and Schedule 13 (for private hospitals) of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) 1998.
Private clinic GPs’ consultation fees have been capped in the 2006 regulation at a 1992 rate of RM10 to RM35, sparking widespread dissatisfaction among some 7,000 GPs in the country who demanded that their rates be harmonised with their hospital-based counterparts, whose consultation fees were increased in 2013 to RM30 to RM125.
Dr Ganabaskaran said the MMA welcomes the government’s decision to deregulate physicians’ professional consultation fees, saying it will benefit the country’s health care ecosystem.
“This has been a contentious issue especially for GPs, whereby the fee gazetted in the PHFSA is based on the fee recommended by MMA in 1992,” he added.
MMA has been producing a fee guideline since 1987, which is also a normal practice in many countries as a guide for medical practitioners, insurers and third-party administrators.
This also guides the public to know the charges beforehand, he said.
Dr Ganabaskaran also commended Dzulkefly and Pakatan Harapan for making what he said was the right awaited decision that would benefit Malaysians.
“Free market gives the power to the public to decide on the type of value-based services they would like to have.”
Dzulkefly earlier today said his ministry will be taking the necessary steps to realise Cabinet’s decision, adding that town hall sessions and consultations will be carried out to explain the matter to various parties and engage stakeholders.
He also said the ministry would now look into detail at a few new rules, while strengthening existing rules to ensure that more transparent and patient-friendly services are provided, but did not elaborate further.