RM100Mil For Private Hospitals May Not Suffice: APHM

By Ashswita Ravindran | 22 January 2021

The government has imposed a price cap that private hospitals can charge over each type of health condition for treating a patient referred from a public hospital.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — The government’s RM100 million allocation for private hospitals to treat Covid-19 and non-Covid patients may or may not be enough, depending on the number of patients, said the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM).

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recently announced that RM100 million will be allocated for private hospitals to treat Covid-19 and non-coronavirus patients referred from the public sector.

“We would like to thank the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Prime Minister for taking this effort to allocate this amount of money for our patients, for our rakyat and also to assist the private hospitals in managing Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients,” APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh told CodeBlue.

“RM100 million may not be enough because we do not know how many patients they are going to decant. So, as we go along, if it’s successful, we can go into more.

“We need to discuss a bit more in detail with the ministry so that we understand the quantum and the type of patients they are going to send to us because they are capping each kind of patient they are going to send.

“The government has got capping for each kind of condition they are going to refer. Capping, that means for this condition, there’s a maximum (price) they are willing to pay,” the president of the APHM said.

However, Dr Kuljit said that he was not sure of the caps imposed for each medical condition, but as far as he knows, it is a reasonable amount.

“There will always be a discussion between the public hospital doctor and private hospital specialist before the transfer happens. The discussion will include the case and also the cost of treatment.

“Only after it’s mutually agreed, then the transfer will occur. This is to make sure the care is continued well,” Dr Kuljit added.

Dr Kuljit explained that these patients will have to be referred from a public hospital directly and cannot just walk into a private hospital.

Patients who choose to walk in directly to private hospitals will either have to pay on their own or claim from insurance, if insurance covers the particular condition. The government will only cover the cost of treatment for those who are referred directly from a public hospital to a private hospital.

“It has to be monitored and controlled by the government because the funding is theirs, so we cannot simply claim from them.”

Dr Kuljit also said that the kind of non-Covid conditions that will be referred by public hospitals will be cases that require hospitalisation and cases that require treatment that cannot be delayed long until the Covid-19 pandemic is over, for example, fractures, cataract surgery, appendectomy etc.

“Normally, (it) will be for admission. For the follow up and all that, not so much,” Dr Kuljit said.

Private Hospitals More Prepared To Treat Non-Covid Patients Than Covid-19 Patients

Sunway Medical Centre Velocity (SMCV) has set up tents outside the hospital to separate high risk and low risk patients to protect the patients and prevent the spread of the possible Covid-19 infection. Picture from SMCV.

According to Dr Kuljit, private hospitals have a better capacity at managing non-Covid patients as compared to Covid-19 patients, as they wouldn’t need much structural change to treat non-Covid patients.

Dr Kuljit said for non-Covid cases, private hospitals do not need to change any infrastructure in terms of separating different zones for Covid-19 patients, specific airflow, and sterilisation that will be required for Covid-19 areas. The management of non-Covid-19 patients will be the same as how they are managing their current patients, who are also non-Covid patients.

“At this point of time, take non-Covid-19 patients first to start with, and at the later stage, let’s see how we can manage the rest of Covid-19 patients because if we have Covid-19 patients at a large number, we may not be able to do it because our capacity and capability is not the same as how they have,” Dr Kuljit said, referring to public hospitals.

“So, it’s better that they do more of Covid-19 and we do more of non-Covid-19 so it balances up for them, at least to start with.”

Dr Kuljit assured that private hospitals can care for Covid-19 patients and are not running away from it, but these facilities have limited capability and capacity to manage Covid-19 patients.

Dr Kuljit said that last year there were a few referrals of non-Covid patients from public hospitals to private hospitals, in which the cost was covered by the government. However, he wasn’t sure of the total allocation given by the government last year.

He said that if the government is maintaining the same referral system like last year, then private hospitals are already ready to accept the non-Covid patients.

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