Clinic's fee 'within range of charges displayed'

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has reviewed a patient's complaint that she had been overcharged at a family clinic, and has found that the consultation fee did fall "within the range of charges displayed" there.

But the MOH has advised Wee's Family Clinic & Surgery to review how it communicates its charging practice to patients, said a ministry spokesman yesterday. The MOH added that it advises clinics against determining consultation fees "based solely on the number of conditions that the patient has".

Last month, The Straits Times reported finance officer Adeline Kang's unhappiness over being charged $80 at the clinic in Whampoa Drive. She said the clinic told her she was charged twice the rate for a short consultation - $40 - because she had two ailments.

The doctor, Dr Wee Chee Chau, later clarified in an ST Forum letter that his clinic clearly states short consultations start from $40 and long consultations from $50. The $80 fee was not a separate billing for two ailments, but one charge for a long consultation involving two unrelated conditions, he added.

Yesterday, the MOH said the $80 fee indeed "fell within the range of charges displayed at the clinic, which stated that a long consult could cost from $50".

This was after the ministry and Agency for Integrated Care staff visited the clinic and interviewed both the doctor and the patient.

The MOH also asked the Singapore Medical Council and College of Family Physicians Singapore for their views. Both bodies felt doctors can charge based on how much professional work is involved, and the number of unrelated diagnoses is a possible proxy for this.

The MOH said it has explained its findings and actions to the patient.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Clinic's fee 'within range of charges displayed''. Print Edition | Subscribe