Doctors to follow public opinion on new fee plan
By Yun Suh-young
The Korean Medical Association (KMA) said Thursday it will decide whether to halt operations for a week by conducting a public opinion poll over the diagnosis related group (DRG) payment system set to be implemented on July 1.
The decision to hold a poll on the new system is in response to the negative reaction from the public following their announcement to stop performing certain operations.
Doctors had threatened to suspend surgery in seven medical service categories that fall under the system but withdrew their hard-line stance Wednesday, saying they will continue to conduct emergency operations and only boycott some procedures from the seven categories.
But the doctors’ association is firm about its opposition to the DRG system.
“We will retain our stance on opposing the DRG system but we will base our future decisions on the results of the poll. Our decision to boycott some operations may or may not be affected by whether people welcome the DRG system. But it is too early to say decisively that our decision will change according to the poll,” said a KMA official.
The KMA said they will only accept the DRG system if the public wants it.
“If the public welcomes the DRG system, we will accept it. But if the public opposes it, then doctors will take the lead in fighting against it,” the KMA said through a press release Thursday.
The association plans to hold a press conference Monday to clarify its position.
The DRG system, which the government plans to implement from July, will apply to seven medical fields of operations ― cataract, tonsil and appendix removal, hernia and hemorrhoid repairs, uterine surgery and cesarean sections.
Doctors have been opposing the new plan otherwise known as the fixed-price system saying it will lower the quality of medical services and discourage doctors from providing proper and decent treatment.
Under the DRG system, patients pay less in medical fees because health insurance coverage is included in the price system. The system prevents doctors from forcing patients to undergo unnecessary tests, operations and other medical services which were often done under the current fee-for-service payment system.