More clinics under probe for possible cheating

Phoenix Dental Surgery's clinic in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8.
Phoenix Dental Surgery's clinic in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

MOH has asked the police to look into more questionable subsidy claims under Chas

More clinics are under probe for possibly cheating the Ministry of Health (MOH) when claiming subsidies for patients under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas).

Two dental clinics have already been suspended from the scheme. The suspension will start on Friday.

MOH told The Straits Times that it has asked the police to look into more questionable claims, made by an unspecified number of other clinics, under Chas.

The scheme lets private clinics treat patients who are eligible for a government subsidy, and claim the subsidy from the ministry.

Last week, MOH announced the suspension of the two dental clinics - Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade - from Chas. It had filed a police report against them for possible fraud on April 22.

Under Chas, MOH has to give a clinic 15 days' notice of termination, so the clinics facing suspension are on Chas until this Friday.

 

The ministry told The Straits Times it has "also referred other clinics to the police for further investigation". But it would not say if they are dental or general practice (GP) establishments. About 1,500 clinics are on the Chas scheme.

 

The possible cheating cases surfaced via regular audits by MOH and a patient's complaints.

In the case of the two dental clinics, the MOH spokesman said: "While we were auditing the clinics, we also received a patient complaint that Phoenix Dental had submitted claims for procedures which had not been done for the said patient."

Associate Professor Patrick Tseng, Singapore's chief dental officer, said: "MOH takes a serious view of fraudulent claims and unlawful practice behaviour, and we will take necessary action if we suspect any such activity."

The audits have turned up cases of non-compliance, but many are unintentional or administrative errors, such as putting down the wrong date for a procedure. They have also turned up more questionable "errors", such as:

• Doing a simple procedure but making a claim for a more complex, and hence more expensive, treatment.

• Making claims for procedures that are not eligible for subsidy, by classifying it as a different procedure that is subsidised.

• Making a full claim although the treatment has not been completed.

• Claiming for a procedure that was never done.

The MOH spokesman said the ministry will recover any subsidies paid out through incorrect claims. Last year, Chas paid out $167 million in subsidies to GPs and dental clinics for treating 650,000 Singaporean patients.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2016, with the headline 'More clinics under probe for possible cheating'. Print Edition | Subscribe