Putrajaya: Covid-19 patients now have private treatment option, insurance coverage still under study

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali delivers a speech in Kuala Terengganu October 1, 2020. — Bernama pic
Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali delivers a speech in Kuala Terengganu October 1, 2020. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Private hospitals may now treat Covid-19 patients who are able to pay for their treatment costs and the mechanism for insurance companies to cover these expenses is being fine-tuned, the government said today.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali said this when listing out the main topics discussed so far by the government’s Emergency Management technical committee and subsequently approved by the National Security Council’s Emergency meeting.

In a four-page statement today, Zuki spoke of the government’s decision on the integration of the capabilities of public and private hospitals during the Emergency, which he said was intended to ensure systematic coordination to guarantee comprehensive and holistic health access can be implemented for both Covid-19 patients and others.

Among other things, Zuki touched on the topic of payments for healthcare costs for Covid-19 patients at private hospitals.

“The mechanism to pay for Covid-19 patients by insurance at private hospitals is being refined by the Finance Ministry, the Health Ministry, Bank Negara Malaysia and the insurance industry.

“For now, the private sector is empowered to treat Covid-19 patients who can afford to pay for the medical costs and treatment themselves,” he said in his statement.

In his statement, he said the integration of private hospitals and public hospitals during the Emergency would enable the optimisation of existing health resources and expertise to treat patients during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said the operations of public hospitals — including university hospitals and military hospitals — and private hospitals will be hybrid, based on the concept of Cluster Hospitals under the Integrated Covid-19 Control Centre.

Also as part of such integration, there would be an optimisation of existing lab capacities, especially at government departments and public universities, for the purposes of large-scale testing and detection of Covid-19, he said.

Zuki said there would also be mobilisation of other medical resources such as equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), medicine according to the hospitals’ needs, especially in terms of general health services, including mobilising medical personnel — such as nurses from private hospitals with certain expertise — to be temporarily deployed to public hospitals.

In summing up the integration of public hospitals and private hospitals’ services during the Emergency, Zuki said the Health Ministry will continue to carry out engagement sessions with private hospitals and other stakeholders to ensure smooth management of Covid-19 and to ensure that general health services would not be affected.

Yesterday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the Health Ministry has already identified 130 private hospitals as being capable of treating Covid-19 patients in stages three, four and five, with 95 of these 130 hospitals having agreed as of January 25 to prepare to provide such treatment.

Dr Noor Hisham had said these 95 hospitals would provide the healthcare system an additional 1,286 beds as well as 95 Intensive Care Units (ICU) beds to treat Covid-19 patients, with the cooperation with the private hospitals also translating into 54 additional ventilators being available for patients.

Dr Noor Hisham had said that the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 allows for healthcare officials to move from one hospital to another hospital, whether it’s between private hospitals or between public and private hospitals.

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