Remove administrative hurdles in hospital billing

IN MAY, my mother was admitted to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and had a brief stay in the intensive care unit (ICU).

On May 22, the ward doctor said that my mother could be discharged from the ICU the following weekend.

So, I went to the business office to upgrade her ward from C to B2. The admission officer insisted that I make a deposit of $5,600 because Medisave might not be adequate.

I explained that my mother was covered by PruShield (A Plus), an "as charged" hospitalisation plan, with a Letter of Guarantee of up to $10,000, which can be used to waive the upgrade deposit.

The Letter of Guarantee can be accessed online through the insurer's eLOG system, which TTSH can access. However, despite my explanation, the officer made no attempt to check eLOG.

Not wanting to delay my mother's transfer, I paid the deposit. Subsequently, after my mother was discharged from hospital, I went back to the TTSH business office to inquire about the hospital bill.

This time, I was referred to a billing officer. She explained that it typically takes eight weeks for the hospital to refund the deposit.

When I asked why eLOG could not have been accessed in the first place, she replied that the system is available only on weekdays, and that the front-line admission officers do not have access to it.

Why is the eLOG system available only on weekdays and not 24/7? Why can't front-line admission officers access the system?

Also, why does it take so long for TTSH to refund my deposit? After all, the insurer needs only two weeks to process the hospitalisation claim and reimburse the hospital. Eight weeks is excessive, considering that this is not a small sum of money.

Sim Eng Cheong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2015, with the headline 'Remove administrative hurdles in hospital billing'. Print Edition | Subscribe