PUTRAJAYA: The Cabinet today has agreed to do away with consultation fee control for private healthcare and dental care facilities.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the decision was reached following discussions being held in the Cabinet on Nov 29 and again today to deliberate on proposed amendments to the Seventh Schedule under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 (Act 586) and suggestions by the National Cost of Living Action Council.
He added that the decision to annul the consultation fee control under Act 586 would apply to all facilities registered under Schedule Seven and licensed facilities under Schedule 13.
"With the abolition of the consultation fee control, doctors and dentists in the private sector can fix their own consultation fee rate on their patients.
“Patients also can evaluate and decide beforehand if the consultation fee offered is appropriate. The abolishment of the consultation fee is a move to empower the people in decision making," he said in a statement.
Following this decision, Dr Dzulkefly said the ministry would elaborate on some new regulations and strengthen existing ones so that service delivery would be more transparent and patient-friendly.
This would include displaying the consultation fee clearly so that patients would be aware of the fee involved before receiving treatment, he added.
For any issues on charges or services received at any private healthcare facilities, he urged the public to lodge reports with the Private Medical Practice Control Section (CKAPS) of the ministry's Medical Practice Division.
These complaints, he said, could be directed to the CKAPS via email at [email protected].
Dr Dzulkefly gave his assurance the ministry would take all necessary steps to ensure the abolishment would happen.
“At the same time, the Health Ministry will conduct sessions to inform and explain the matter to various quarters.”
The minister added that such a move would encourage private healthcare and dental care practitioners to raise the quality of their service, professionalism and delivery services to their patients.
The minister also expressed his hope that the abolishment of the consultation fee control would further boost the private healthcare and dental care services sector.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) welcomed the government’s move to deregulate the professional consultation fees which has been regulated since 2013.
MMA president Dr Ganabaskaran said this has been a contentious issue especially for the General Practitioners (GPs), whereby the fee gazetted in the 2006 Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA) is based on the fee recommended by MMA in 1992.
He said it took the stewardship of Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and the Pakatan Harapan cabinet to make the right decision that will benefit the rakyat and healthcare ecosystem.
This is indeed a bold decision by the Pakatan Harapan government which has been in power only for the last 1.5 years, he added.
“Free market gives the power to the public to decide on the type of value based services they would like to have. MMA has been producing the fee guideline since 1987, which is also a normal practice in many countries as guide for the practitioners, insurers and Third Party Administrators. This will also help guide the public to know the charges beforehand,” said Dr Ganabaskaran in a statement today.
He also called upon doctors not to undercut with their professional charges.
“Undercutting will only compromise on professional services. Doctors must emphasise on quality patient centred care at all times and charge reasonably,” he added.