Learn from motor insurance industry in dealing with excessive claims

Rising healthcare costs affect everybody, regardless of whether one has an Integrated Shield Plan (IP) with or without a rider ("Keeping a lid on healthcare costs"; Tuesday).

We should take lessons from the motor insurance industry.

When motor repair claims increased drastically, the industry realised it was not right to solely penalise car owners, or to simply increase insurance premiums to prevent excessive claims.

This was because the majority of car owners were not risking life and limb to stage accidents and collaborate with workshops to benefit from repair claims.

Hence, NTUC Income introduced a stringent policy on accredited and designated repair workshops, and engaged claims adjusters to review claims.

The authorities also set up accident reporting and assessment centres to validate claims and weed out bad workshops and excessive repair claims.

As a result, the motor insurance industry is now healthier and more disciplined.

There is a need for a balanced approach towards healthcare policies and costs without punishing the innocent majority who have been paying premiums for IPs with riders for years and have not lodged substantial claims against their policies.

The Government should build more public hospitals to offer a wider range of healthcare and wider competition among all healthcare providers.

As our population is ageing rapidly, there will be greater demand for healthcare services. Healthcare and hospice care should remain the responsibility of the state. More funds should be allocated to better offer such services to all citizens.

Finally, the Consumers Association of Singapore, General Insurance Association, Singapore Medical Association, Health Ministry and the Central Provident Fund Board should jointly form a watchdog to weed out overtreatment and overcharging, or abuses within the healthcare industry.

This is necessary to protect Singapore's resources, the aged, the vulnerable and the sick, as well as our country's reputation as a medical hub ("Overcharging threatens healthcare hub dreams" by Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock; yesterday).

Sum Kam Weng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Learn from motor insurance industry in dealing with excessive claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe