Health Ministry to take steps to prevent overconsumption of health care

Steps will be taken to ensure that health-care consumption does not get out of hand once universal health insurance scheme MediShield Life kicks in next year, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Thursday, Aug 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR
Steps will be taken to ensure that health-care consumption does not get out of hand once universal health insurance scheme MediShield Life kicks in next year, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Thursday, Aug 7, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

SINGAPORE - Steps will be taken to ensure that health-care consumption does not get out of hand once universal health insurance scheme MediShield Life kicks in next year, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Thursday.

For instance, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will put in place guidelines to regulate how doctors prescribe treatment.

"We want to make sure that our doctors don't overprescribe," Mr Gan said.

He added that the structure of MediShield Life - such as the co-payment and deductible portions - would also help ensure "responsible consumption".

Moderating consumption is important for keeping health-care costs in check, so that the system remains sustainable and affordable for all, he said.

He was responding to a question on how MediShield Life would affect health-care demand at a feedback session last night. Some 120 professionals, managers, executives and technicians attended the session, held by government feedback unit Reach.

Mr Gan and Reach chairman Amy Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for Health, took questions on a variety of topics related to MediShield Life, including whether or not Medisave can be used to cover the cost of riders.

Mr Gan acknowledged the advantages of riders, which are commonly offered by private insurers and help pay for co-payments and deductibles.

However, he added that they also create something of a "buffet" syndrome.

"It's still an individual decision," he said. "But we do not allow Medisave to be used, because in our view it encourages consumption."