Direct action at doctors, hospitals that overcharge

Once again, there is an appeal for government intervention in order to deal with a problem created by a market economy (Insurers want all patients to pay part of hospital bills; March 7).

Is this the way to go for a national healthcare plan?

Spiralling healthcare cost is a universal phenomenon.

Recently, JP Morgan chief executive Jamie Dimeon said that "people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their healthcare".

Transparency, knowledge and control are the keys issues that the Health Insurance Task Force, which was set up by the Government, must also address.

The claim by insurance companies that patients who do not have to bear any part of the cost not only make more claims, but their claims are also 20 per cent to 25 per cent higher than those of people who pay part of the bills is only one side of the story.

The conclusion that patients abuse their health insurance because they pay little or nothing has to be substantiated with a realistic look at the critical contributors of costs.

According to the report, the task force noted some cases where private hospitals and doctors "overcharged patients by inflating certain components of the bill".

If this was what the task force discovered, then making patients pay full charges will clearly not solve the problem of spiralling medical costs, as the patients are not in control.

The appropriate intervention should be directed at the contributors of these inflated costs, namely, the hospitals and doctors.

Moreover, who wants to fall sick if they can stay healthy?

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2018, with the headline 'Direct action at doctors, hospitals that overcharge'. Print Edition | Subscribe