Tackle high inflation in medical industry

The outpatient pharmacy at the Singapore General Hospital.
The outpatient pharmacy at the Singapore General Hospital.PHOTO: ST FILE

High medical inflation in Singapore and, in particular, high annual increases in hospitalisation insurance plan premiums have been an issue for several years, despite attempts by the authorities to address it.

I recently noted that the annual premium for my hospitalisation plan went up by 19 per cent from last year to $2,605.

When I first started this plan in 2015, my premium was $1,282.

It has since increased by an average of 19.4 per cent per year, which is clearly unsustainable.

At this rate, private hospitalisation plans will be out of reach for most people. And Singaporeans seem powerless to do anything about it.

During a recent visit to a private specialist, I was asked whether I was covered by insurance.

The clinic staff subsequently told me, perhaps unwisely, that patients would be charged different amounts for same-day surgery depending on the insurance company they are with.

So, it seems as though the private medical industry has now refined the art of maximising its earnings to the extent of knowing the amounts each insurance company deems acceptable for a particular procedure.

This reinforces my belief that it is time for the authorities to take a closer look at finding a solution to the multifaceted issue of high medical inflation in Singapore.

I hope a balanced policy solution can be developed, which will allow the average Singaporean to keep his private hospitalisation plans going into his retirement years.

Pua Hock Keed

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 15, 2019, with the headline 'Tackle high inflation in medical industry'. Print Edition | Subscribe