Fee benchmarks facilitate charging, help payers make informed choices

We thank Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi (Benchmarks for medical fees need more teeth; Jan 19), Dr Yik Keng Yeong (Let free market mechanism set doctors' fees; Jan 23), and Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock (Fee guidelines make medical charges more transparent; Jan 24) for their feedback on the fee benchmarks for medical procedures and services.

The introduction of fee benchmarks is part of a larger strategy to keep healthcare costs affordable and sustainable as we prepare for an ageing population.

The fee benchmarks seek to encourage appropriate charging and enable patients and payers to make more informed decisions.

Charges above the benchmarks may not necessarily constitute overcharging, as there will be circumstances where higher charges may be justifiable.

Doctors who charge above the benchmarks should, however, be prepared to justify their charges when queried by patients and payers.

As Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat explained in Parliament on Jan 8: "The benchmarks would help us to identify the small number of doctors who overcharge.

"This is information for us to be able to use, for patients to use, for insurers to use and for the authorities, including the Singapore Medical Council, for them to be able to take action and prevent the small number from raising health-care costs for everyone else."

Lim Siok Peng (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2018, with the headline 'Fee benchmarks facilitate charging, help payers make informed choices'. Print Edition | Subscribe