Long wait at public hospitals drives many to go private

For the past 15 years, my family of five has been insured with health insurance that covers private hospitalisation, and we have quite a few riders.

This decision for private hospital plans with riders was due to the concern that public hospitals would be overwhelmed by demand and thus unable to meet my family's healthcare needs ("Clamp down on black sheep, not limit options" by Mr Max Leong Boon Piow; and "Keeping a lid on healthcare costs"; both published on Tuesday).

I prefer the public hospital system, with its superior equipment, up-to-date infrastructure and less profit-driven diagnosis and care.

However, my concern was confirmed recently when I was diagnosed with a deviated septum and severe sleep apnoea at one public hospital in July.

The next appointment was moved from August to November due to doctor availability. In the meantime, I was prescribed a device which did not work, and the struggle to get a decent night's sleep was unbearable.

I approached a private ear, nose and throat specialist who recommended surgery. The surgery took place in the middle of August, and I have since been free from sleep apnoea, as evidenced by the much improved sleep quality.

If private doctors, private hospitals and patients are taking advantage of the rider system, then public hospitals, in their current form, are encouraging this outcome when they do not meet the needs of patients like myself.

Law Khin Choy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2016, with the headline 'Long wait at public hospitals drives many to go private'. Print Edition | Subscribe