ATTACKS ON PRIVATE HOSPITALS MISLEADING, VICIOUS AND FRIVOLOUS SAYS MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST PROF DR JACOB GEORGE

‘If you cheat and overcharge, the said patient will not return!
I know of specialists who on many occasions, refuse to charge their professional fees, to help patients who claim to be poor, only then to be seen driven off by their driver in a BMW 7 or other high performance cars!’
ATTACKS ON PRIVATE HOSPITALS MISLEADING, VICIOUS AND FRIVOLOUS SAYS MALAYSIA ASEAN APEC LEAD CONSUMERIST PROF DR JACOB GEORGE
Did a private hospital violate Section 11 of the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 selling a three-ply face masks higher than the ceiling price?
We are told that the said hospital will be charged in court if it fails to pay the compound within the stipulated time.
There are allegations now that there are ‘back-room’ activities to address the matter by certain quarters!
As an expert, I will still comment on the issue at length.
We are told that on May 13, KPDNHEP conducted an inspection at the hospital following a viral story of a patient in a private hospital who was allegedly charged RM201.60 for 18 pieces of three-ply face masks used by the nurses.
The amount equals to RM11.20 a piece, while the ceiling price for the face set by the government is RM1.50 per piece.
Also seized from the hospital were several documents, including the three-ply face masks of the same type for further investigations.
At the time of writing this matter, others have gone viral and I am asking if certain government agencies especially the Domestic Trade Ministry are going overboard with the narrative by making statements and comments that creates not just confusion but perhaps wrong in law?
I add that it is critical and good that KPDNHEP is serious in ensuring the face masks supply are readily available at a price that is not more than the maximum price, but remember for consistency and in view of reality, one should not get carried away making statements which provides fodder that all adventurous patients will use to defame, threaten and blackmail a private healthcare institution based on the interpretation of this mask and other healthcare issue!
KPDNHEP went further to state that patients can, from now on, expect reasonable prices for treatment at private hospitals and can demand that private hospitals provide an estimate of their treatment costs, including the prices of medication, as well as the costs of nursing and treatment services, before undergoing treatment.
I have worked in a leading premier private hospital as its senior administrator before falling victim to high powered politics, racism, and eventual retrenchment of one person, me, and a battle over 12 years in both the industrial and civil courts that gave me eventually redemption to a certain degree but not compensate the pain, agony, loss of dignity, pressure on my family due to these roller-coaster rides!
Despite my deep resentment and hurt based on what happened to me personally, I still say we should be fair and truthful!
The pertinent question is are private hospitals really bleeding Malaysian consumers?
Are professionals and specialists in the Private healthcare facilities daily cheating and manipulating the figures to hurt the purse of patients and insurance companies?
Was it not for this allegation, we came out with the PRIVATE HEALTHCARE FACILITIES AND SERVICES ACT 1998, during the tenor of the then Health Minister, the proactive and no nonsense tolerating Chua Jui Meng in which as lead consumerist, I was also consulted and assisted in the drafting of the said Act!
The issue was the need to address profiteering.
And thanks to the legislation – PRIVATE HEALTHCARE FACILITIES AND SERVICES ACT 1998 we can now address this!
But first, the perimeters that must be made clear.
A private hospital is one which is owned and governed by a person or many people or a public listed company who are managing the whole finances on their own.
A public hospital, on the other hand, is completely and entirely run on the government’s funding and money.
This is a private institution and there is a separation of the tenants read specialist of various disciplines who provide a professional service within the hospital by taking space, paying rent, not just for work space but also for car park and they charge a professional fee for their area of expertise and service and the landlord read hospital charges a separate bill for the utilization and usage of services and facilities which the hospital as an entity provides.
The problem of interpretation is from ignorance and plain unadulterated stupidity!
Are consumers who have decided to go to a private establishment now screaming to be charged government rates?
Where is the profiteering?
Who is profiteering?
The specialists have their fee structure and the hospital has its own management structure and billing system that is widely regulated by the legislation and where there are avenues for appeals on chargers.
Nothing is cast in stone!
So it is plain greed and a vicious attack on the system when consumers making an informed choice, knowingly briefed on chargers, the medical issues and where there is a need for intervention no one can dictate exact figures that surrounds the treatment of cases which may be simple, complicated and others with risks based on the patients’ health and issues.
Is it just jumping on a bandwagon for any, even a consumer group, with no experience to call upon all groups, medical insurance providers who are the main culprits to protect their clients against being overcharged by private hospitals?
Before making statements which are cavalier and foolish like stating in blanket form or claiming all private healthcare institutions have profiteering tendencies, please do your homework if not, shut up!
Are we so stupid to say out of all groups, that medical insurance providers do not micro manage and scrutinize the bills submitted by private hospitals and question them if the charges are exorbitant?
Let us not challenge the intelligence of the masses!
This is 2020 not 1969!
As I write this piece, there is another case where another individual is blackmailing a private hospital on chargers for healthcare despite being advised thoroughly by the physicians!
This individual is now also using the social media to tarnish the image of the physicians both very reputable individuals just because he is politically connected?
I told the physicians to take him on!
I will assist!
CASSA Malaysia is ready to assist in a probe not just on the allegations but on this individual at the same time!
As for KPDNHEP, my advice is – please be careful.
Are you also going to charge all Malaysian 5 star hotels for profiteering for the costs of the say, Nescafe Ais or Nasi Lemak because it is far more costly than the Mamak restaurant?
Daily consumers make choices in their lives.
It could be choices on the purchasing of property, holiday trips, vehicles, goods and services, and healthcare!
Unless there is premeditated intention to cheat a consumer, it is perhaps better for government agencies and consumer groups to first investigate the allegations and not play patronizing politics!
Consumers are not always right!
Neither are all establishments’ thieves!
For the record, Singapore’s Health Ministry published a benchmark fee structure for common surgical procedures, to help patients make better-informed decisions.
But there was none on doctors’ consultation fees.
England and Australia’s private practitioners are free to determine their own fees; although the Australian Medical Association publishes an annual list of medical services and fees, it serves only as a recommendation.
In Japan, medical fees are regulated and reviewed every two years.
Basically I am advising the Malaysian government that there is nothing wrong for the government to allow market forces to determine medical practitioners’ fees.
But it would be good if a ceiling price is set so consumers are not forced to pay excessive charges.
But then again, let us be fair!
If you cheat and overcharge, the said patient will not return!
I know of specialists who on many occasions, refuse to charge their professional fees, to help patients who claim to be poor, only then to be seen driven off by their driver in a BMW 7 or other high performance cars!
One final note!
In 2018, there were around 240 private hospitals and certainly here consumers have an informed choice platform!
So let us all stop contributing to this circus of fake news, consumer groups and online media included!