Higher healthcare costs: Consider less obvious factors too

The ongoing debate on containing the spiralling cost of healthcare seems to have reached a conclusion - minimising consumption of medical services will produce fewer insurance claims and, hence, premiums will not rise so much that consumers end up bearing the brunt.

In other words, underwriters have to ensure that providing insurance cover must remain profitable and consumers must reduce their consumption to keep claims within profitable limits for insurers.

One of the factors contributing to higher costs in private hospitals is the Ministry of Health's (MOH) mandatory requirement for electronic filing of claims by specialist clinics that rely on the hospitals to facilitate this process, adding to the cost as they need to hire additional staff to do electronic filing.

If MOH wants to dig into the real drivers of the spiralling costs of healthcare insurance, it needs to be open to the possibility that other factors apart from the obvious ones may be responsible. It behoves the health authorities to seriously examine their assumptions and current processes.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 01, 2018, with the headline 'Higher healthcare costs: Consider less obvious factors too'. Print Edition | Subscribe