Legislation will bring private medical fees under control

No legitimate business is allowed to freely charge its customers.

As the medical practice is a for-profit business, the industry should not be exempt from fair business practices.

I agree with Ms Salma Khalik that the "cowboy town" behaviour of the private medical sector should be brought under control with legislation (Fee guide helps treat health costs; Dec 7).

The fundamental flaw of opaque pricing is illustrated by the Ministry of Health's failure in publishing the actual fees charged by the private sector.

The only way to end this bad practice is through legislation, which will force the industry to produce a catalogue and price list with specifications of what clinics and doctors offer.

The new government-backed medical fee benchmark also comes with an implication that if private sector doctors deviate from the price range excessively, patients could possibly seek recourse in the courts of law.

When this happens, the market will morph into a normal business model to allow patients to make more informed choices.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2017, with the headline 'Legislation will bring private medical fees under control'. Print Edition | Subscribe