Chas clinics to have itemised bill from next year, dental subsidies tweaked

Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade were suspended in July from participating in the Community Health Assist Scheme for making false claims and flouting guidelines.
Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade were suspended in July from participating in the Community Health Assist Scheme for making false claims and flouting guidelines.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - The 1,600 clinics in the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) where patients get subsidised treatment at private medical and dental clinics, will have to provide itemised bills from next year.

Dental claims will also be tweaked to be more specific to the work done.

In a statement on Friday (Oct 28), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said the bills should list what the doctor or dentist charges, and the amount of subsidy the patient gets - even if the patient does not need to make any out of pocket payment.

It said this would "enable patients to better understand their clinic's charges and the Chas subsidies they receive".

About 1.3 million people, including those in the Pioneer Generation, are eligible for Chas subsidies. Last year, the MOH paid out $167 million in subsidies for treatment given to 650,000 Singaporeans.

However, the scheme has not been without its problems. A few months ago, the MOH suspended two dental clinics from the scheme. These clinics are now under police investigation for possible fraud.

Since then, several people have raised issues with the way some clinics manage this programme. One writer to the Straits Times Forum pages said the clinic refused to issue a bill, saying it is free to the patient, as the entire treatment was covered by the subsidy.

The ministry announcement did not allude to any of this, but it did say that the changes are to "enhance fee transparency".

It has also tweaked some dental subsidies, such as for root canal procedures. There are now three instead of one category for root canal. Currently, dentists can claim $174 to $266.50 for root canal treatment for a pioneer generation patient.

From next year, the subsidy for the same patient will be $174 for a front tooth, $220 for a pre-molar and $266.50 for a molar. The subsidy will be for up to two root canals a year.

The ministry statement added: "We encourage Chas patients to speak to their clinics if they have any queries on their bill."

Bills have to be issued, even if a patient does not need to make any out of pocket payment.