On Friday, 6 December, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that doctors at private clinics will now be allowed to fix their own consultation fees
In a report by Free Malaysia Today, it was reported that Cabinet has agreed to deregulate the fee structure, thus allowing the charges to be controlled by the free market.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that this move would increase the citizens' right to choose their own doctors, as well as hopefully stimulate the private healthcare sector.
However, the clinics must clearly display the consultation fees so that patients are well informed about the treatment cost
According to Dr Dzulkefly, patients should also evaluate for themselves if the doctor's consultation fees are reasonable.
“If patients are not happy with the charges or services received in any of the private facilities, they can lodge a complaint with the Private Medical Practice Control Section at [email protected]," Dzulkefly said, as quoted by The Star.
The deregulation of the fee structure is a historic move as the consultation fees for doctors and dentists at private clinics have remained the same for the last 27 years
The regulation has been a particularly contentious issue for private healthcare practitioners, especially as the cost of living increased over the period.
According to Free Malaysia Today, doctors and dentists from private clinics are limited to charging between RM10 and RM35 per consultation, whereas their counterparts at private hospitals are able to charge between RM30 and RM125 per consultation.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) called the deregulation of the fee structure a "bold decision"
MMA also believes that this decision would benefit the public and the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
"A free market gives the public the power to decide on the type of value-based services they would like to receive," MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.
However, MMA has urged doctors to not undercut each other with their professional charges as it will only compromise their services
Last month, MOH announced that Government clinics will have cashless payment facilities nationwide in the next two years: