KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — Insurance companies told private hospitals to publish the average costs of common medical procedures, amid the government’s move to deregulate private medical practitioners’ consultation fees.
The media reported Life Insurance Association Malaysia (LIAM), Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) and Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA) as saying that it should also be mandatory for consultation fees to be disclosed up front.
“This would help the public make informed decisions on the cost of treatment,” LIAM, PIAM and MTA said in a statement.
“In this regard, private hospitals in Malaysia should publish their actual average costs similar to what is currently practised in some countries.”
Over 350 private hospitals in Thailand last May were required to display the prices of 3,000 drugs — mainly medicines used in emergency cases — as well as fees for medical supplies and services. Thai hospitals must also give patients prescriptions so that they can opt to buy medicines from outside pharmacies.
The three insurance associations also reportedly supported legislated benchmark prices for medicines and pharmaceutical supplies.
“These are essential items to patients and should be made affordable to the rakyat.”
The insurance companies expressed concern with a projected 13.1 per cent increase in medical costs in Malaysia this year, according to the 2019 Global Medical Trends Survey Report by Willis Towers Watson that found Malaysia had among the highest medical costs in the region.
“If health care costs are not contained, increase in premiums for medical and health insurance will be inevitable. And if medical insurance is no longer affordable, it will drive more patients to government hospitals.
“For self-paying patients, it will cost them more to seek treatment at private clinics and hospitals,” they said.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced recently that general practitioners (GPs), dentists and specialists in private clinics and hospitals would be free to set their own consultation fees, 13 years after the professional rates of private medical practitioners were first regulated by legislation.
Clinic GPs had long been demanding that their consultation charges of RM10 to RM35, a rate set since 1992, be increased to their hospital-based counterpart rates of RM30 to RM125.