2 dental clinics under police probe for fraud

Phoenix Dental Surgery's clinic in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8.
Phoenix Dental Surgery's clinic in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ PHOENIX DENTAL SURGERY

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will suspend two dental clinics from offering subsidised care to middle- and lower-income Singaporeans and the Pioneer Generation because of possible dental fraud.

The two are Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade. The suspension begins on July 8 for an indefinite period.

A statement from the MOH yesterday said it had referred the matter to the police for investigation into possible criminal offences.

The Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) subsidises pioneers and citizens, whose per capita monthly household income is $1,800 or less, for treatments at private medical and dental clinics.

The doctor or dentist makes a claim for the subsidy on behalf of the patient, and the amount is deducted from the patient's bill.

For dental treatment, subsidies, which are paid by the Government, range from $11 to $266.50.

The MOH said the two clinics had continuously made claims that breached MOH rules and guidelines.

This included making claims for procedures that were not carried out. The ministry said it took a serious view of such errant practices.

Although the clinics will not be able to offer patients the subsidy, they may continue operating.

According to its website, the two clinics were set up by dentists Dr Teo Eu Gene and Dr Cheng Jean-Lynn, and employ four other dentists. None were contactable yesterday.

The clinics can regain their Chas status once they have rectified the faulty claims and can reassure the MOH that they will comply in future. The results of the police investigation will also be taken into account, said the MOH.

This is the first time a clinic has been suspended from the Chas scheme. About 1,500 GP and dental clinics are on the scheme which, last year, helped 650,000 Singaporeans.

The Straits Times understands that several other dental clinics are also under investigation for inappropriate claims.

The ministry does regular audits of participating clinics and finds the vast majority "are compliant".

It said non-compliance can sometimes be due to simple administrative errors, such as recording dates wrongly.

More serious are when the claimed procedure does not match the actual treatment, or when claims are made for procedures that were not done. Sometimes, claims are made for treatments that are not eligible for a Chas subsidy. When these are discovered, the clinics have to make good on the claims they have received.

The MOH added that cases that involve "potential professional misconduct" will be referred to the professional body for disciplinary action. It added: "For cases where criminal misconduct is suspected, the cases will be referred to the police."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2016, with the headline '2 dental clinics under police probe for fraud'. Print Edition | Subscribe