Monday, July 25, 2011

FMT: ICare medical scheme – a crony treatment?

ICare medical scheme – a crony treatment?

FMT Staff
 | July 25, 2011
Private practioners nationwide are concerned about the government scheme, which they fear will only benefit a few private companies.

TAWAU: A proposed medical insurance scheme by the government has raised concern among private practioners here and across the peninsular.
Suspicion has risen over the 1Care scheme which many believe will only benefit a few private companies at the expense of patients and doctors.
The doctors fear that healthcare expenses will increase as 1Care will become a monopoly through a giant managed-care organisation (MCO).
Although the government is yet to reveal the full details of the 1Care scheme, initial disclosures have raised concerns.
According to doctors here, in theory the scheme appears to save money for the consumers but in reality it is otherwise.
“It should save consumers from having to pay out of their pockets for their primary healthcare and thus protect them from excessive healthcare expenses, but in reality 1Care will come under a new company and thus a middleman.The middle man will profit from patients and their caregivers.
“This will result in healthcare costs going up, the standard of treatment may drop and the public will be burdened with a new healthcare tax,” said a private doctor who requested anonymity.
The doctor said most fraternity members are worried that their ability as medical practioners to provide quality medical care will be compromised by the scheme which will collect fixed funds from all working adults and their employers.
They are also preparing to face criticism from the establishment who may see their opposition to the plan as trying to protect their income first.
Scheme may lead to ‘undertreatment’
Meanwhile in a letter obtained by FMT, a group of doctors from the peninsular have also listed their concerns and are urging the government to engage all parties, including patients and the public before deciding to introduce the scheme.
They said it is important that dialogues be intiated and stakeholders respond to valid questions on the scheme.
Spelling out their concerns and worries, former Penang Medical Practitioners’ Society (PMS) presidents Dr Ong Hean Teik and Dr Haniffah Abdul Gafoor along with ex-Penang branch leader of the Malaysian Medical Association Dr SP Palaniappan, said the scheme is being promoted as having an immediate impact on improving the country’s healthcare system while also addressing the poor government medical facilities in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The experience worldwide is that a fixed capitation fee per patient will lead to inadequate and under-treatment since physicians tend to conserve resources to prevent financial loss.
“Although patients do not directly pay for their treatment, they are still indirectly paying since a portion of their income will automatically be deducted and given to the insurance company running this programme.
“Instead of spending only for their healthcare, patients are actually contributing to finance the operation of a private insurance corporation,” the doctors noted in their letter.
The doctors believe that to qualify for the scheme, they may have to buy computers and software from a designated supplier and also pay for certification.
“This appears to be a business model guaranteeing profit for the computer programme seller and the body providing education/certification of doctors.
“Patients don’t pay for drugs, which will be prescribed by doctors only from a standard list, and can also be dispensed at participating designated pharmacies. Clinics and pharmacies will then collect payment from the insurance corporation.
“Patient treatment will be limited to only these approved drugs, and any other drugs used will be paid fully by the patient out-of-pocket,” the letter noted.
Patients may pay more
The doctors said that while patients need not pay, quality of treatment will drop since the range of drugs will be limited.
“There is a monopoly in deciding which drugs get onto the approved list and profit will be guaranteed for the company supplying and manufacturing these drugs. Patients will be registered with a particular doctor and treatment must be only from this doctor.
“If a patient chooses to see another primary care doctor or if specialist treatment or hospitalisation is needed, patients will again pay out-of-pocket.”
The doctors said patients will no longer be able to seek a different primary care doctor, even if they travel to another town or if the initial treatment is ineffective.
“Since the scheme does not cover specialist and hospital costs which are far higher than primary care charges, patients may actually end up paying large out-of-pocket fees despite contributing to the new insuring company.”


Winston said...

You're right.
Behind every apparently beneficial scheme is a ploy to scam the public.

pilocarpine said...

if tungshin's doctors can stand up and voice out the truth about the police during Bersih...

if the doctors from perak and all over peninsular can stand up and voice out their demand for the release of Dr Jeyakumar...

i believe the fraternity should unanimously stand up and voice against the scam of 1care... before it's too late.

like u mentioned before "why change if it's spoilt... in the first place"

Janmar Delicana said...

I find your post very interesting and controversial. On top of all developments one must always ensure that healthcare should never be a privilege but a benefit. People must be proactive to keenly observe in order to see the reality behind the sweet words of healthcare companies and professionals.

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On behalf of the Physician Nexus Team

Maurice Chew said...

Every country in the world will ultimately develop some kind of healthcare scheme for the public. What is clearly common in all is the idea that the man in the street must have affordable basic health care. In most places it usually starts with the government taking the lead. Of course there will to be a middle man invoved. This is especially with insurance schemes and this is where it is open to abuse.

In Singapore we had compulsory medisave years ago. If you are self employed this compulsory contribution can account to as much as 8% of your annual income. However this only covers the very basic cost for example if you are hospitilised it only covers part of the bill for a C class ward.

Later , when the insurance companies got on to the idea, they teamed up with medical groups to form the managed healthcare Groups. As these groups got bigger they began buying up clinics --so ultimately you have a chain of private clinics refering to 2 or 3 private hospitals and all funded by insurance. The end result-health care costs start to spiral up. I hope your 1care scheme will not go this way.There will have to be checks and balances.

Carden Ross said...

Hello Dude,

Icare medical scheme is a terrific way to enable you to get the medical treatment you need when it’s needed. When you begin a household you’ll inevitably convey more people depending you to become fit and healthy. In the event that you require medical assistance you will want it immediately instead of needing to wait about the public system. Thanks.
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