Shocking fee quoted for quick surgery

File photo of the Singapore National Eye Centre.
File photo of the Singapore National Eye Centre.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

I am a 71-year-old general practitioner and recently had an operation at the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC).

Though I am fully covered by private insurance, I find the cost of medical care in Singapore ridiculously expensive.

On recommendation I first went to the National University Hospital (NUH) to have my glaucoma and cataract condition looked into.

I was recommended an operation - a day surgery, no stay-in, about 40 minutes - to have the cataract removed and a pump insertion for the glaucoma to relieve the pressure on my right eye.

The fee quoted was a staggering $19,000. I was very uncomfortable with what I would be charged and decided to seek a second opinion at the SNEC, which quoted me a fee of $9,000.

I would like to know:

• Why are the surgical fees that high, given that the operation was not complicated and would take only 40 minutes? Perhaps it is due to the expensive implants?

• Why is there such a huge disparity in prices between NUH and SNEC? I understand they use different implants. Still one can't help but suspect profiteering.

• This episode is highly relevant given the recent fracas at the SNEC concerning MediShield Life payout, even though my case is completely private and has no government subsidy.

I hope the relevant authorities will shed some light on this.

Wong Kai Peng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2019, with the headline 'Shocking fee quoted for quick surgery'. Print Edition | Subscribe