PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Private Medical Practitioner's Associations Malaysia strongly disagreed with the statement from Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan that private hospitals and clinics have no reason to raise prices after implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) next year.
Its president, Dr Steven Chow, said operating expenses for private clinics will definitely increase with the GST implementation.
"While certain medicines and medical equipment are zero-rated, other parts of the supply chain for private healthcare facilities are not tax-exempt," he said in a statement.
He pointed out that private healthcare does not operate in silos and therefore it is also affected by the cost of items such as rental, water and electricity.
"Costs of medicines are only a small part of a clinic's operating costs and furthermore, only medicines on the government essential drug list are zero-rated, which does not cover the full range of medications used in private and public healthcare," he said.
Chow said while certain medical equipment are GST-exempt, they are not items that are purchased daily.
"Disposables, service and maintenance cost of these equipment and all items associated with the use of the equipment are items that are going to be affected by GST," he said.
"Despite doctor' professional fees remaining the same even after GST, the overall cost of providing the same service will go up.
"We estimate that this will be from 3% to 5%. Therefore, it is incorrect to project that cost will not go up in private clinics and hospitals," he added.
Chow said doctors are left with the option to either increase their fees or absorb any increment in their expenses following the rise in operating costs.