Yet another announcement by the Ministry of Health is being actively disseminated and discussed on online forums and social medial by healthcare professionals and the public.
The circular, dated 7 October, which notified of the implementation of Full Paying Patient (FPP) Services in 32 public hospitals, has caused many to voice out their opinions on the matter, postulating that the public health facilities are emulating fee structures practiced by private sectors due to budget cuts.
No more healthcare for RM1?
In the midst of ongoing parley, the Director General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham has taken to the online media to clarify on the FPP services, beginning with a statement that the main objective for the FPP services was to address the shortage of specialists in Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals by retaining public specialists from switching over to private sectors.
The FPP services, he explained, do not equate to “privatisation” of healthcare services in public hospitals, as government-subsidised healthcare services that are currently available will be maintained and will be further enhanced by the MOH.
The focus on the FPP however, is to provide financially-able patients with the option of receiving specialist care in selected public hospitals, such as those who initially sought treatment from private facilities but were referred to government hospitals for further treatment from specific healthcare consultants.
Listing several benefits of the FPP services, Hisham stated that patients will get to choose their preferred specialists and enjoy certain facilities such as the First Class Ward, all of which are subject to the availability of said facility and field of specialty in the hospital.
FPP optional, for patients who can afford
The FPP Scheme is not novel in Malaysia, and was first implemented in the year 2007, with certain public facilities such as Putrajaya Hospital already providing optional FPP services applicable for both outpatient and inpatient treatment.
Patients who have chosen to register under the FPP scheme will be charged at a full fee, without subsidy by the government, of which charges are subject to the Full Paying Patient Fee Act (Akta Fi Pesakit Bayar Penuh) 2007.
The Putrajaya Hospital’s webpage displays a schedule of hospital charges for patients under the FPP scheme, listing consultation fees during and after clinical hours, as well as bed charges for different classes of wards.
The specialist registered under the FPP services will then receive a portion of the return, Hisham also said, expressing hopes that the initiative will motivate specialists from public hospitals to continue their outstanding services in MOH healthcare facilities.
While many are still cautious, believing that such a scheme implemented has to be carefully managed, many netizens appear satisfied by the Health DG’s explanation of the FPP scheme, urging others to read and understand before making false assumptions.
MOH: Private hospitals allowed 25% fee hike
The Health Ministry has also allowed private hospitals to increase the price of their medical fees by 25%, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya, adding that the optional fee increment was restricted to foreign patients.
“For local patients, they (private hospitals) have to stick to the price list,” he said, adding that patients may file complaints with the ministry if charges are beyond the ministry-approved increment.
According to Hilmi, Malaysia’s healthcare tourism industry, which has been expanding by 15% per annum over the last four years, will not be affected by the fee hike, further stating that an estimated 850,000 foreigners came to Malaysia for healthcare treatment last year.
"Malaysia's medical team offers top facilities and services, while our medical fees are among the cheapest in the world, so many foreigners like to come to our country for medical treatment. Not only that, the hospitals also offer halal food and prayer facilities, this is one of the reasons why our medical industry has become the top selection for Muslims," he said. MIMS
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