08 February, 2010

Hospital Fee in Singapore

On Saturday, 6 Feb 2010, The Straits Times reported a prominent surgeon in Singapore faced SMC (Singapore Medical Council) hearing related to amount she charged a patient which ran into millions.
Hospitalisation fee in Singapore is an open cheque, you can be charged any amount by the doctor or hospital without having you to agree to it first. You don’t have an idea of how much you would be charged before the treatment and you can’t say No.
In addition, doctors can prescribe any unnecessary medicines and send you for unnecessary scanings and tests. One of my late mum’s doctors commented that why every doctor also gave my late mum so many Vitamins ? My mum at that time was looked after by around 5 or 6 speicalits.
When my late mum first saw a specialist, she was recommended to see another specialist for another part of her body then another one and another one. She ended up with around 5 or 6 specialists. In addition, we were also asked to engage a GP to coordiante for these specialists.
I just feel that we need to have a more transparent medical system in Singapore, as a patient, we should have the right to know how much we would be charged.

I sent this comment to the Minister for Health, Mr Khaw Boon Wan at 1.27pm today and he replied immediately as shown below at 1.35pm but did not quite answer to my point raised. Yes all hospitals will provide financial counselling pre-admission, but they only tell you how much is the room charge and the basic fees, they can't tell you how much more your doctor will charge you.

Healthcare is inevitably complex as patients differ from one another. But there are useful tips, such as: - Have a family GP whom you trust and have built up many years of relationship and familiar with your and your family. He/she will help you determine if you need a specialist and if so whom; - if a specialist prescribes surgery, get a second opinion; - if you require hospitalisation, all hospitals will provide financial counselling pre-admission, giving an estimate of length of stay and likely bill sizes.