Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa today said any changes to the public healthcare services fee structure will not be carried out immediately.
She said the proposal will be looked at carefully and transparently with necessary analysis, taking into consideration the views of all stakeholders at engagement sessions.
Zaliha, the Sekijang MP, said at this time, the rate charged in the public sector is very minimum because the government subsidises a lot.
She said, however, the current structure imposes the same fees for all regardless of their financial capability.
"The health ministry does not have a mechanism to collect surplus fees even if patients are willing to pay more as they appreciate the comprehensive treatment they received," she said during the winding-up session for the health white paper in the Dewan Rakyat today.
"The most important thing is to ensure that Malaysians, especially those in need and the poor, would not be affected and could enjoy continued access to healthcare services."
Earlier, Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin urged the government to defer and reassess any increase in fees at public health facilities.
He called on the government to reconsider the matter, expressing concern over the additional financial strain the fee hike would impose on the people who are currently suffering from rising prices of goods and daily necessities, inflation rates and the increase in the overnight policy rate.
"In several studies, most people feel that their financial situation this year is worse than last year's – this is not limited to the B40 group alone.
"So if there is a proposal to increase the rates for public health care treatment, I request that it be postponed and reconsidered," the Pagoh MP said.
The health white paper tabled in the Dewan Rakyat today aims to review the fee structure at public healthcare facilities.
According to the 57-page document, the current structure has led to huge disparity between what patients need to pay and the costs to provide the services.