Patients can now get a single room at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital for less than what they have to pay at some public hospitals, possibly for the first time in Singapore.
The $2 billion hospital owned by Parkway Pantai has converted one ward to A-class rooms that will cost a patient $373 per day. This is 40 per cent less than its other single rooms costing $618 per day.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which is just across the road, charges $420 for a single room.
Mount Elizabeth's chief executive officer Kelvin Loh said the move to convert the 32 rooms in the ward follows requests from both doctors and patients for a cheaper alternative.
The rooms are of the same size as the others at the hospital, but offer fewer frills like cable television, free parking, branded toiletries and a visitor sofa bed.
Even then, construction supervisor Lim Chee Lian, 57, who has been hospitalised in one such room for a week for a skin infection, said the rooms "are very pretty, like a hotel".
The father of three said he opted to stay in a private hospital because of the constraints that visitors in public hospitals face, in terms of the visiting hours and the number of visitors allowed.
But he might not have done so, he added, if the room had cost $600 to $700, even though the bulk of his bill will be covered by insurance.
Dr Ivan Ng, a neurosurgeon who operates at several private and public hospitals, said he has had many local and foreign patients who were attracted to the state-of-the-art medical equipment at Mount Elizabeth Novena but felt that the rooms were somewhat pricey.
"Having cheaper rooms at Mount Elizabeth Novena will allow me to admit more patients there," he said.
When The Straits Times visited the ward last Friday, all but one of the 32 A-class rooms were occupied.
The hospital, which is not fully opened yet and offers only single rooms, has an occupancy rate of about 75 per cent currently.
Depending on demand, it could offer more cheaper rooms when it opens some of its other wards, Dr Loh said.
He does not think that offering cheaper rooms will have an impact on the hospital's bottom line since the move will generate greater volume and hence higher revenue.
The cheaper rooms, he added, will not affect "the Mount Elizabeth brand for high-quality health care".
He said: "We need different products for different customers. Some want all the benefits, while for others, the frills don't matter."