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Ministry to discuss high cost of private hospital treatment for policy holders

KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry will hold a meeting with the relevant authorities to discuss the escalating cost of medical treatment at private hospitals.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the meeting to be held between the ministry, Managed-care Organisation (MCO) and private hospitals would look into ways to overcome the problem of high charges for insurance policy holders at private hospitals compared with cash payment.

"The meeting is to discuss the problem of private hospitals imposing high charges for insurance policy referrals when compared with cash payment. There cannot be two variations in payment for treatment.

"If this trend continues, patients will not be able to receive the optimum benefit from their insurance policies," he told reporters after attending a Private Hospital Visitors Board meeting here today.

Liow said since the government has a fixed rate for professional treatment offered by doctors or specialists, nobody can hike the charges to their whims and fancies.

He said every private hospital must set up a grievance mechanism to handle complaints from patients who are unhappy with charges for treatment.

Among the mechanism is to display charges for medical treatment in the website of the respective hospitals, or explain the charges for treatment so that patients would be able to understand before making a decision.

Liow said the Ministry would also make amendments to the regulation of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 to enable hospitals and private clinics to operate without too much restriction.

"Our enforcement officers (Ministry) are very strict when inspecting clinics...so we have relaxed the restriction and will inform them of the changes because it does not involve the ethics of doctors," he said.

Meanwhile, Liow said the Private Hospital Visitors Board members selected by the ministry play an important role as facilitators to provide correct information on the services provided by a hospital, to the members of the public.

"They can become an important channel to accept complaints or suggestions from the public to improve the quality of service in their respective hospitals," he said.

Each hospital with a capacity of between 50 to 300 beds will have 10 to 25 board members.



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