For some private hospitals, running at a loss may be expected. But for Beacon Hospital, it lost over RM100 million to provide affordable cancer treatment. This is because the hospital, according to its executive director, Mary Chen, wants to provide health care access, particularly cancer treatment, to all Malaysians — especially those who can’t afford it. Originally known as Wijaya International Medical Centre, Chen bought over the hospital and renamed it Beacon in November 2010. Chen decided to take over Beacon after realising that most people seeking treatment sell off their assets and end up in debt only so they can prolong their lives for a few more years. However, when she took over Beacon, the hospital had already lost RM60 million. And for the next nine years, the hospital lost millions more, she said.
Medicine is expensive, chemotherapy drugs especially, which saw Chen withdrawing all her Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) savings when she was 55 to pump cash into Beacon. This is because Beacon’s goal is to offer treatment from as low as zero, though those who are able to foot some portion of the costs are encouraged to do so. But there is a limit to Beacon’s capacity on its own. Hence, some of Beacon’s strategies to cut down costs to ensure that all patients are able to seek treatment include halving the prices of drugs that it supplies to private hospitals, and then asking that they lower the cost of their PET-CT scans by the same percentage.