Government to look into difference in fees for cancer patients

Reuters pic.

KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad today agreed that the amendment to the law that forces cancer patients to pay higher rates for treatment at public hospitals if they are referred from private or university hospitals is unfair, adding that the ministry hoped to review the matter as soon as possible.

“We understand that there are pertinent considerations that must be reviewed in the hope of giving fair and applicable treatment to all patients, even if they were referred from private hospitals to public hospitals for whatever reason,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a pharmaceutical conference here.

“We are aware, and we are seriously looking into the matter.”

In his speech at the conference, Dzulkefly also gave the assurance that the government would continue to provide access to affordable and high quality healthcare despite the increasing costs.

The government was recently urged to undo the 2017 amendment to the Fees (Medical) Order which makes it mandatory for cancer patients to be charged first class rates whereas previously, they could choose between third, second or first class treatment.

At a forum on cancer last Sunday, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said the amendment by the previous government was based on the misconception that those who initially choose private healthcare can afford the highest rates at public hospitals.

Azrul also noted that the difference in rates between referrals from a public and private practitioner would often come up to RM375 but in cases such as stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotactic radiation therapy, the difference could be a staggering RM6,500.