MAM answers letter on Consultants' Fees - 12/1/2005

Martin Balzan, general secretary, The Medical Association of Malta.

I refer to the letter entitled Consultant's Fees (January 7).

Doctors' fees were fixed for a very long time and are very low when compared to doctors in other countries and indeed to plumbers, painters etc in Malta. If any patient looks closely at a bill for an operation in a private hospital he will be surprised to note that the surgeon's fee is often less than 20 per cent of the total.

The public must understand that there are no such constraints on the premiums charged by insurance companies which seem to be skyrocketing. Hadrian Cassar Torreggiani's insurance company justifies their hefty increase in premiums because of bad claims; perhaps he should seek a further explanation before blaming it on doctors.

The public should be reminded that the Office of Fair Trading has ruled that to allow competition there is a free market for doctors, hospitals and clinics and insurance agencies. I am sure Mr Cassar Torreggiani is fully aware that the government provides a free health care service of a very high standard and this is the competition that restricts doctors from raising their fees to more reasonable levels when compared to their colleagues overseas and indeed plumbers, painters, panel beaters, teachers etc in Malta.

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