Clamp down on black sheep, not limit options

The public has been told for years to have adequate medical and hospitalisation insurance coverage.

Medical costs are a big worry for the bulk of the population, hence, it is natural for people to acquire comprehensive coverage if they are able to afford it.

A picture seems to have been painted of patients requesting inappropriate and excessive treatments, and getting away with "not paying" for their treatments ("Panel suggests doing away with medical insurance riders" and "Policyholders with riders run up higher treatment bills"; both published last Friday).

But patients do pay indirectly, through higher premiums than those who have minimal coverage.

Also, most times, a patient has to pre-pay his hospitalisation and medical bills before claiming the costs back from the insurer.

What is wrong with a patient trying to seek better treatment and faster recovery, based on the advice of his medical practitioners and accorded by the appropriate medical coverage?

Why penalise consumers by removing affordability and insurance coverage just because of a few black sheep or errant medical practitioners who capitalise on their patients' fear?

The right thing for the task force to do is to go after medical practitioners who prescribe inappropriate and excessive treatments, and weed out the black sheep.

Increasing premiums and removing medical insurance riders will only raise healthcare costs for the insured majority.

Max Leong Boon Piow

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Clamp down on black sheep, not limit options'. Print Edition | Subscribe