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NEWS UPDATES 15 February 2010

Malaysia hospitals expect windfall from Singapore ruling

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At least 12 hospitals in Malaysia under two hospital groups will benefit from the relaxation by Singapore on getting health services abroad as more Singaporeans are expected to seek treatment across the causeway, the Business Times reported.

The Singapore Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced that from March 1 2010, its residents can use their Medisave, equivalent to Malaysia's Account 2 in the Employees Provident Fund, to help pay for their hospitalisation abroad.

Medisave usage will be extended to hospitalisation and day surgery. However, outpatient treatment is excluded. Prior to this, the use of Medisave abroad was strict and could only be used for emergencies.

The overseas hospital must also have an approved working arrangement with a Medisave accredited institution/referral centre in Singapore and patients must be referred through these centres.

The scheme will start with two providers - Health Management International (HMI) and Parkway Holdings Pte Ltd.

HMI will work with Mahkota Medical Centre in Malacca and Regency Specialist Hospital in Johor while Parkway will partner nine hospitals under the Pantai Group and the Gleneagles Intan Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

HMI group executive director Francis Lim Poon Thoo when contacted said that both its hospitals in Malaysia can expect long-term benefits from this liberalisation.

"The cost of procedure and stay at a six-bedded ward in a government restructured hospital in Singapore can be the same as paying the same procedure in a single-bedded room in a private hospital in Malaysia for a single room in a private hospital," Lim said.

This will also provide an opportunity for Malaysian doctors to treat Singapore patients which is a reverse of what is happening now.

Regency Specialist is under Mahkota Medical Group, which also operates the Mahkota Medical Centre in Malacca.

HMI holds 48.95 percent of the group, while Bumiputera-owned Maju Medik Sdn Bhd owns 38.42 percent and the remaining 12.36 percent is held by local doctors.

Lim, who is also the chief executive officer of Mahkota, expects group revenue to grow by 20 percent in 2011 following this ruling. It is aiming for 150 million ringgit revenue (1$=3.4 ringgit) in the year ending June 30 2010.

Meanwhile, Pantai Holdings Bhd is wholly owned by Pantai Irama Ventures Sdn Bhd, which in turn is 60 percent held by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and 40 percent by Singapore's Parkway Holdings Ltd. Khazanah also has a 24 percent stake in Parkway.

Pantai Holdings chairman Tan Sri Mohamed Khatib Abdul Hamid (picture) said its cooperation with Parkway complies with the conditions set by the Singapore government and is a natural extension of the existing synergy between the two organisations.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council chief executive officer Datuk Ooi Say Chuan said that it welcomed the move by Singapore as it fits with its own efforts of promoting Malaysia as a healthcare travel destination.



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