KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — Private hospitals have very narrow profit margins because the private health care sector is not subsidised by the government, a group said.
The Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) reported that the industry has taken a hit following a story about a private hospital overcharging for face masks that went viral, stating that this incident led to the very first time that a private hospital was charged under the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011, as reported by Free Malaysia Today.
Free Malaysia Today reported that the hospital in question was handed a RM200,000 fine by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry last week for billing a patient RM201.60 for 18 pieces of three-ply face masks used by nurses during treatment for the patient, which breaks down to RM11.20 per mask, nearly 10 times higher than the government’s ceiling price of RM1.50 per mask.
“Health care is costly, but government hospitals provide services which the public generally get for free.
“Malaysian public health care is one of the best in the world, but if people want to go to private hospitals, there is a price to pay as it is not subsidised by anyone,” APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh told Free Malaysia Today.
“The private hospital industry’s profit margin is only around 7 to 8 per cent, but the public doesn’t understand this.
“The financial reports of companies that own these hospitals are readily available online and the public can check for themselves. We’re actually struggling to keep afloat,” he explained.
He further added that Malaysia’s weakening ringgit exacerbated the issue of hospitals having to purchase expensive medical equipment that could cost up to RM10 million, most of which needed to be imported.
Furthermore, private hospitals also have to bear the cost of insurance to protect against expensive medical malpractice lawsuits, said Dr Kuljit.
APHM looks to arrange for a meeting with Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi to seek clarification on the subject matter.