Set up body to oversee healthcare costs

I agree with Dr Yik Keng Yeong that the genie has already been let out of the bottle by anti-competition laws granting carte blanche to the medical industry ("National insurance will escalate healthcare costs"; Forum Online, last Wednesday).

Perhaps the Government should find a more effective way of reining in egregious price increases by the profit-driven healthcare sector.

Since the Government is the largest healthcare provider in Singapore, it can potentially use its influence to sway the healthcare landscape.

State hospitals and polyclinics could take the lead by reducing in-patient fees, thereby placing pressure on other healthcare service providers to do the same, in order to remain viable options for prospective patients.

Additional policy changes are necessary to moderate the cost structure and implement enforceable recommendations.

The National Wages Council (NWC) is a good example of this mechanism at work.

It is therefore logical to set up another tripartite body, say, the "National MediCost Council", to study, deliberate and review the impact of medical cost increases against the national average wage increase.

Like the NWC, the function of the body would be to provide a valuable and justifiable quantum of adjustment for the medical industry to implement.

Corporatised healthcare groups should also change their commercial mentality, and focus on providing the best possible medical outcomes, with prudent clinical practices and close supervision to keep costs down.

This is no outrageous demand but, rather, a manifestation of social responsibility.

To keep MediShield Life sustainable in the long term, the Government needs to take these actions in order to push the genie back into the bottle.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 22, 2015, with the headline 'Set up body to oversee healthcare costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe