KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 ― Government reimbursements for Covid-19 patients who were treated privately instead of at public hospitals will be handled case by case, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
He explained that his ministry has a fund to settle the hospitalisation bills of Covid-19 patients who were referred by public facilities to private institutions.
But he indicated that it was not approved automatically even as he acknowledged that many patients were forced to seek private treatment after public hospitals ran out of space during the recent surge, especially in the Greater Klang Valley.
“We will review on a case by case basis. Because I realised many who went to private hospitals had no choice at that time.
“I will look for case by case to help them with this,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.
Khairy was responding to Datin Paduka Tan Yee Kew (Wangsa Maju-PH) who asked if the government would reimburse Covid-19 patients who had to pay astronomical fees after being sent to private hospitals when public hospitals could not take them in.
Tan cited a case in which a patient was charged RM400,000 by a private hospitals after bing admitted to its intensive care unit.
Sim Tze Zin (Bayan Baru-PH) also asked if the Health Ministry could use the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) to requisition beds from private hospitals to prevent the problem from happening again.
Khairy replied that his ministry had successfully negotiated with 72 private facilities and allocated funds to the states so that the patient could be treated there as well.
“Of course, the Health director-general has the power of requisition, but we only use it when the situation is desperate. So far we use negotiation for outsourcing services. So far, the allocation is RM40 million for each state,” he said.
He added that private hospital capacity for Covid-19 patients is “still low” at only 45 per cent and was not filled due to cost.