By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK
Insurance associations have denied allegations that their members requested “kickbacks” from hospitals for medical expenses incurred by their policyholders.
The Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM), General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) and Malaysian Takaful Association (MTA) yesterday said such allegations against insurers are unfounded and a concern to the industry players.
“The three associations view such unfounded allegations made by the hospitals with serious concerns,” they said in a joint statement yesterday.
“Insurance companies and takaful operators through LIAM, PIAM and MTA have worked closely with the hospitals and third-party administrators to ensure that the cost of healthcare is maintained at an affordable level,” the associations added.
Recently, reports surfaced that insurers have been asking for “cuts” from medical costs by policyholders who were treated at medical facilities. The claim, however, was unsubstantiated.
LIAM, PIAM and MTA said premiums had increased due to the rising costs in healthcare services, averaging 12% annually between 2010 and 2014.
“Going forward, this is projected to increase at a rate of 15% each year due to a number of reasons,” they said.
Greater demand for better healthcare services, an ageing population, more cases of chronic and lifestyle diseases, application of advanced health- care technologies, and higher cost for drugs and treatments have increased healthcare costs.
The associations said doctors’ fees at private hospitals are presently regulated under the 13th Schedule of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Regulations.
“However, other components of the hospital charges such as fees for hospital stay, laboratory investigation, nursing care, use of equipment and operation room, and drugs are not regulated,” said the group.
“In view of this, there is a wide range of cost differences among private hospitals,” they said.
In the joint statement, the three associations encouraged pricing transparency by suggesting that the government should regulate and publish the recommended retail prices for pharmaceutical products, medical devices and medicines.
The associations want the government to make it compulsory for all hospitals to publish their fees.
“Hospitals are also to alert consumers that they can request for a more detailed bill with clear cost breakdowns,” the statement said, adding that they will work with relevant authorities and stakeholders to ensure fair and reasonable medical charges.
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