Total surgery fees to feature in hospital bills but exact breakdown not given

A surgical procedure at KK Women's and Children's Hospital. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
A surgical procedure at KK Women's and Children's Hospital. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

But costs of surgeon, anaesthetist and facilities will not be detailed

From next month, you could get a better idea of what the amount charged on your hospital bill was used for.

The Health Ministry (MOH) yesterday revealed that the information it provides on how much common procedures cost here, will include a new section - "total operation fees". This sums up how much the surgeon, anaesthetist and facilities cost.

Currently, the information on MOH's website compares the total cost of treatment for 80 common conditions - such as heart attack and kidney failure - at different hospitals, including private ones.

The figures are based on what real patients were charged.

They also show the size of the bills at the 50th and 90th percentiles, giving people an idea of the typical and upper range of treatment costs.

However, no breakdown of the cost is provided.

"To commence next month, this enhanced transparency will provide more information to help patients make informed decisions," an MOH spokesman said.

However, the ministry said that it will not give a more detailed breakdown of the "operation fees" into its three components.

Yesterday's announcement came hours after Mr Leslie Fong - Singapore Press Holdings' senior executive vice-president of marketing - made a call for a citizen-led initiative to help keep an eye on rising hospital bills.

He suggested a site where people could upload bills that they "had valid grounds to suspect as excessive".

"Instead of just griping in private about being overcharged for this or that, why not put up the medical bill in contention... so it can be subjected to public - hopefully informed - scrutiny?" he said.

Doing so, he added, would allow the general public to "maintain vigilance against unreasonable hikes in cost".

He was speaking at the opening of the Health & You Exhibition, jointly organised by The Straits Times' Mind Your Body and Lianhe Zaobao-LOHAS, at the Suntec Convention Centre. Health minister Gan Kim Yong was the guest of honour.

The exhibition, which is into its 10th year, ends today. Admission is free.