Rein in overcharging by doctors, hospitals

Dr Thomas Lee Hock Seng in his letter succinctly states that intervention to curb the high medical costs should be directed at the contributors of these inflated costs, namely, the hospitals and doctors (Direct action at doctors, hospitals that overcharge; March 9).

And he is right, my experiences show.

My grandson was admitted to a private hospital for hand, foot and mouth disease, from March 11 to March 13. The total bill came up to $7,472, comprising the doctor's fee of $2,140 and hospital charges of $5,332. The doctor made three visits - this works out to slightly more than $700 per visit.

For a common disease like this, these charges seem exorbitant. Even though this can be claimed from insurance, unnecessarily inflating costs will contribute to an inevitable rise in insurance premiums.

Back in 1984, when my son had a hernia operation as a one-year-old, the doctor chided me for not telling him that the procedure was covered by my then employer, and said that if he had known I could have claimed from insurance, he would have charged double.

Such experiences have left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I can only conclude that many doctors and hospitals overcharge.

There is a lot of merit in reinstating the Singapore Medical Association's fee guidelines, which were withdrawn in 2007.

Patients are frequently at the mercy of doctors and hospitals. The unscrupulous ones will capitalise on patients' vulnerability.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2018, with the headline 'Rein in overcharging by doctors, hospitals'. Print Edition | Subscribe