Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Healthcare insurers to register but no action yet against pirates

This appeared in the Star yesterday. Of course, we are coming up to an election and no one knows what the situation will be on March 31 next year. I'm quite sure this will happen if elections are not held yet by March 31, otherwise, it's anyone's guess.

We've spoken about limiting healthcare and medical ethics on this blog before, note that although insurers are being asked to register, no action is yet being taken to discourage future attempts to tie the hands of honest doctors or to remedy the damage already done by pirate firms profiteering off the lifeblood of their subscribers.

Healthcare insurers must register

All insurance companies providing healthcare facilities must register with the Health Ministry by March 31 next year.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the companies should not think that they were not regulated by anyone except Bank Negara.

“Bank Negara deals with the financial regulations."

“But all health and health related matters come under the Health Ministry, including insurance companies which provide healthcare facilities,” he told the press after launching Vamed's 20th anniversary celebrations here last night.

He said all healthcare providers were regulated under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and doctors by the Medical Act 1971.

“This is a warning. If they do not comply, they can be fined up to RM500,000."

“Hospitals that provide healthcare to patients through such insurance schemes must also register with us, or they can be fined up to RM300,000,” he said.

He added that he was “not happy” with recent cases of insurance companies that “arm- twisted doctors to not only cap their fee but reduce their charges.”

It was recently reported that an insurance company had proposed a new Healthcare Service Provider Agreement, which doctors had claimed was unethical and would limit patients' access to healthcare.

The new terms included doctors not being properly reimbursed for emergency and critical care outside of office hours and a limit to the number of chargeable visits allowed for specialists in certain disciplines.

“When people are sick and go to a doctor, and they (insurance companies) put all sorts of caps on the charges ... that is not fair,” he said.

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