Subsidise more treatments at polyclinics

I recently had to consult a podiatrist in a SingHealth polyclinic and was surprised to learn that I enjoyed a subsidy of only 30 per cent for this service.

SingHealth said the Ministry of Health (MOH) does not offer any direct subsidy for this service and it is SingHealth itself which offers the 30 per cent subsidy.

Apparently, MOH also does not provide subsidies for physiotherapy in such institutions.

On the other hand, patients who go to public hospitals enjoy higher subsidies of about 75 per cent for all types of services.

Both public hospitals and polyclinics are under the purview of MOH, so it is strange that the subsidy level varies so widely between them for some services.

MOH is encouraging patients to first seek primary healthcare providers (polyclinics included) before swamping public hospitals.

But its policy of granting vastly different subsidies for these two public institutions for some treatments is doing the opposite.

Patients who are aware of the discrepancy will almost certainly prefer to go to public hospitals to enjoy the higher subsidies.

Many people need podiatry and physiotherapy treatments. Both affect the mobility and quality of life for patients, so MOH should provide subsidies for them in polyclinics, too.

Tan Say Yin (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Subsidise more treatments at polyclinics'. Print Edition | Subscribe