Doctors now free to set their own consultation fees

Patients have been asked to assess for themselves if the doctor’s consultation fees are reasonable. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: The health ministry today announced that the Cabinet has agreed to deregulate the fee structure for private clinics.

This effectively establishes a free market for the industry — a move hailed by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

Consultation fees for doctors and dentists practising in private clinics have not changed in 27 years, a contentious issue for private healthcare practitioners, considering the rising cost of living over the period.

While they have been limited to charging between RM10 and RM35 per consultation, their counterparts at private hospitals have been able to command consultation fees of between RM30 and RM125 since 2013.

“Private sector doctors and dentists can now determine their own consultation fee rates with the abolition of control of consultation fees,” said Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad in a statement today.

“The patients can assess for themselves if the fee is reasonable.

“It is hoped this abolishment will spur the private healthcare sector,” he added.

Stating that the consultation fees must be displayed prominently so patients are fully aware of them before receiving treatment, Dzulkefly said the ministry will conduct dialogue sessions with various stakeholders regarding the move.

In a separate statement, MMA said this “bold decision” will 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,” said MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran.

Urging doctors not to undercut each other with their professional charges, as it will only compromise their services, Ganabaskaran said there is a need to “emphasise quality patient-centred care at all times and charge reasonably”.

Patients who are not satisfied with the charges or services they receive at any private healthcare facility can lodge a complaint with the Control of Private Medical Practice branch (CKAPS) at [email protected]