Doctors cannot pay percentage of fees to third-party agents under new ethics code

Singapore Medical Council president Tan Ser Kiat sent out an advisory to all doctors stating that "fees that are based on a percentage of what doctors charge patients may be construed as a form of fee splitting".
Singapore Medical Council president Tan Ser Kiat sent out an advisory to all doctors stating that "fees that are based on a percentage of what doctors charge patients may be construed as a form of fee splitting".PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Doctors who pay a third-party agent a percentage of the fee he collects will be infringing the new medical code of ethics which comes into force next month (January 2017), said the Singapore Medical Council (SMC).

SMC president Tan Ser Kiat sent out an advisory to all doctors on Tuesday (Dec 13) stating that "fees that are based on a percentage of what doctors charge patients may be construed as a form of fee splitting".

He adds that this would be considered a breach "regardless of when the doctor entered into such an arrangement with the third party".

But to give these doctors time to negotiate a new agreement and in order not to leave patients in the lurch, Professor Tan said this particular guideline for the medical code of ethics will be delayed for six months, coming into force only on July 1.

Third-party agents generally charge for their services based on a percentage of fees, which can range from 10 to 25 per cent.