PROTECTING THE PEOPLE: Health Ministry fixes ceiling rate at 14.4 per cent
PUTRAJAYA: THE Health Ministry has fixed the ceiling rate for the increase of private medical fee at 14.4 per cent.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the percentage was decided over the 30 per cent increase proposed by the Malaysian Medical Association.
“Those (in the fee schedule) are the maximum rates.
“What we have done is to protect the people from being overcharged by the private sector,” he said after the ministry’s post-cabinet meeting yesterday.
He said the ministry felt the increase of 14.4 per cent was more appropriate to form the basis for the increase in professional fees, which was lower than the 30 per cent suggested by MMA.
The revised 13th Schedule Fee Structure allows healthcare facilities to charge the stipulated maximum fee.
“However, the market force will determine the fees these facilities impose within the ambit of the schedule. Prudent and discerning public are encouraged to seek treatment at private (medical) facilities charging reasonable rates permitted by the recent amendments.”
The minister said the 14.4 per cent increase was modest given that the inflation rate was around 23 per cent.
He said the fees for consultation and existing medical procedures had not been revised since its introduction in 2002.
The ministry, he said, was directed to review the fee schedule in September 2010.
There were reports on Monday that the amendment to the 13th Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 (Private Hospitals and Other Private Healhtcare Facilities) Regulations 2006 was published in the Federal Gazette on Dec 16 last year, and claimed it was implemented without sufficient publicity.
Dr Subramaniam, however, said the previous minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, had told the public of the increase in July 2012 based on news reports, and the fee schedule was brought to the cabinet in October that year.
“The increase of 14.4 per cent in professional fees, which was announced by the former health minister, was based on consumer price index of healthcare for the period of eight years, from 2002 to 2010.
“The decision was made after consulting ministries and stakeholders. The fee revision was approved by the cabinet on Oct 12, 2012.”
It was reported that the new charge for a general practitioner consultation had jumped from between RM30 and RM125, as opposed to between RM10 and RM35 previously while a visit to a specialist would now cost up to RM235 for consultation alone, double the previous cap of RM125.
“Fees for medical procedures increased between 14 and 18 per cent.
Dr Subramaniam said a study had identified 10 high-sodium food Malaysians love to eat, which could raise the risk of hypertension, heart attack or stroke.
These include fish/prawn crackers; fish (fried/sauce); soy sauce; tomato and chili sauce; fried chicken; dried anchovies or cooked in sauce; fish cooked in curry or sauce; beef and mutton cooked in curry and chilli paste; fish and prawn balls as well as fried rice.
He said the Public Health Institute study also found that soy-based foods were major contributors to the high salt content.
“The study shows a worrying trend as the average intake of salt among Malaysian adults is 8.7g per day, which is 1.7 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 5g per day.
“It also shows that men consume more salt than women,” he said at a press conference in conjunction with the World Salt Awareness Week 2014 here yesterday.
The World Salt Awareness Week will be celebrated beginning next Monday with the theme “Stop, Look and Choose Low Salt”.
On dengue cases, Dr Subramaniam said there were early indicators that the dengue cases were showing a stabilising trend.
For the past two weeks, there had been no spike in the number of cases, he said, adding that the ministry’s relentless fight against dengue could be a contributing factor for the latest development.