Time to take a closer look at hospital pricing policies

I commend Dr Huang Shoou Chyuan for raising the role played by major private hospitals in the recent trend of escalating medical costs (Surgical fee guidelines a good job half done; Nov 23).

A check of itemised bills by the hospitals will show that there is an excessive mark-up on the cost of medication and other consumables for treating patients.

Hospitals, though, buy medicine and consumables in bulk, yet charge patients a huge mark-up that often are multiples on what they would cost in neighbourhood pharmacies.

Just the cost of a simple diaper will show what the ordinary consumer pays outside versus what is charged by the hospital, which buys in bulk at discounted rates.

I suggest that the various stakeholders, including regulators, insurance companies and medical professionals, investigate this issue.

Guidelines for surgical fees have been rolled out. Our next focus must be on the hospitals and their pricing policies.

Lee Chong Kwee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 29, 2018, with the headline 'Time to take a closer look at hospital pricing policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe