Address dilemma of higher out-of-pocket bills in hospital move

Nurses and patients in a hospital ward at Singapore General Hospital.
Nurses and patients in a hospital ward at Singapore General Hospital.PHOTO: ST FILE

Senior health correspondent Salma Khalik made some good points in her recent commentary (Subsidies for different care hospitals need to be better aligned, April 11).

It highlights the dilemma of having to pay more out-of-pocket because of less insurance coverage by MediShield Life, as well as possibly having fewer subsidies when a patient transfers from a general hospital to a community hospital for step-down care.

In addition to the points already mentioned, this may also have the unintended effect of stressing our general hospitals if patients are reluctant to move or delay their transfer to a community hospital because of the added financial strain to pay the extra out-of-pocket bill, as illustrated in the article.

Anecdotally, from some of my interactions with friends and relatives, it also seems that there is quite a long waiting time to get into a community hospital, especially if one is waiting for a subsidised ward.

I suppose, holistically, the situation of creating more capacity at both the general hospitals and community hospitals is already being considered.

I certainly hope that the subsidies alignment, as highlighted, is not a case of using prices or the lack of subsidies and lower insurance coverage to sway demand.

I hope the relevant review committee or government agency will comment on this, as part of the broader MediShield Life review and healthcare cost management for our greying population.

Melvin Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2019, with the headline 'Address dilemma of higher out-of-pocket bills in hospital move'. Print Edition | Subscribe