Let free market mechanism set doctors' fees

It seems unfair to single out the medical profession for special treatment after fee caps were removed and the genie has been out of the bottle and running amok for 10 years (Benchmarks for medical fees need more teeth, by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi; Jan 19).

While it is disconcerting that medical fees are stratospherically high, the same can be said of general costs of living in Singapore.

If the Government is to be deemed impartial, then a slew of measures must be mandated across all services and trades to rein in profiteering professionals and slay wanton inflation.

Architects must charge no more than a certain percentage of construction costs, lawyers must not exceed a certain fee no matter how long the court appointments drag on, car dealers cannot sell their wares at more than a certain multiple or fraction of the open market value, chief executives' salaries must be pegged to profits and so on.

The list is infinite.

But this would destroy the free economy as we know it. Doesn't Singapore pride itself on selling a product well worth its value, without artificial limits placed?

It is universal practice to use price mechanisms to differentiate a mediocre service from an excellent one.

Hence, marquee doctors in possession of unique skills, using the best equipment and catering to the elite and affluent should be allowed to charge accordingly without interference from the state.

The fee-regulating authorities are caught between a rock and a hard place, with no way to appease all parties.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2018, with the headline 'Let free market mechanism set doctors' fees'. Print Edition | Subscribe