Clinics must play their part in honouring subsidy eligibility

I was dismayed to read the reply by the Ministry of Health's Ms Lee May Lin (Chas clinics advised to display reminders of subsidies eligible patients can enjoy; Sept 11).

My primary inquiry on the policy of presenting the Pioneer Generation (PG) card at registration, and whether it made any difference in the quality of treatment, was unanswered (Why fuss over when Pioneer Generation card is shown?; Forum Online, Aug 29).

There were also some inaccuracies in Ms Lee's account of my mother's experience at the clinic.

First, she alleged that my mother did not have her PG card for the visit. This is not true.

My mother presented her PG card at the point of payment, but the woman at the counter rejected it, citing that it had not been presented at the point of registration, and made my mother pay the full bill.

Second, Ms Lee stated that my mother revisited the clinic and was given a "goodwill refund" after she showed her PG card.

My mother did not revisit the clinic. When I called the clinic to inquire about my mother's experience, the clinic staff flatly refused to give us a subsidy refund.

I had sought the help of the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) to settle the issue amicably, but to no avail.

It was only after my Forum letter was published that the clinic called me to say that the Health Ministry had asked that my mother be refunded.

All the methods to check the patient's eligibility for subsidies will come to naught if clinics choose not to honour it by insisting the PG card was not shown at registration.

While encouraging clinics to display Chas benefits prominently is good, the burden of proof should not fall solely on patients who are elderly and, perhaps, illiterate.

We should not count on the "goodwill" of clinics to ensure our elderly enjoy the benefits accorded to them.

I urge the MOH to relook this to make Chas benefits more accessible and inclusive.

Tan Kim Hong (Ms)

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