KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pix) has dismissed the notion that the closure of hundreds of private clinics over the past few years was due to the government’s failure to increase consultation fee for general medical practitioners (GP).
The Health Minister said while he understood the concerns raised by GPs over the fees, that have remained stagnant for 27 years, claims that clinics were shutting down merely because of this were flawed.
“It is true there have been a number of clinic closures recently. But from our checks, of the 889 clinics that have shut down since 2015, only 115 were due to financial and economic reasons.
“This translates to only about 13% of the overall figures,” he told the Dewan Rakyat, here, today.
Dzulkefly was responding to Charles Santiago (PH-Klang) who claimed that hundreds of clinics have shut down as GPs could not sustain their clinics financially due to the low consultation fees.
He had also asked what measures the ministry was taking to address the issue.
Dzulkefly said the ministry has agreed to standardise the consultation fee for private clinics with private hospitals, with the matter set to be raised in National Cost of Living Action Council meeting before getting the Cabinet’s endorsement.
Currently, the consultation fee for GPs is between RM10 and RM35, a figure that has not seen a review since 1992.
Practitioners have been pressuring the government for the fee to be increased and made consistent with the figure charged by private hospitals since 2013, which is between RM30 and RM125.
Dzulkefly said the ministry was also looking to address the issue of medical third-party administrators (TPA), which is claimed to have led to increased costs for the GPs.
It was recently reported that delayed payments and processing of claims by TPAs, or middlemen enlisted by corporates to handle payments for their employees’ health bills, have left private clinics cash strapped.