Have hospitals identify action plans to mitigate overcharging

ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

I agree with Dr Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Direct action at doctors, hospitals that overcharge; March 9).

This is a unique chance for Singapore to stand out as the role model in a world where medical costs are spiralling.

Instead of targeting only demand, steps need to be taken to control the supply, that is, the professionals who overcharge patients.

The Ministry of Health and insurance association should release statistics on cases of overcharging in each hospital and in the industry.

With this information, the MOH should request each hospital to identify action plans to mitigate the overcharging.

The number and value of overcharged medical insurance claims should be evaluated yearly, and the culpable hospitals be made to pay penalties to an insurance pool.

The doctors involved in these overcharging cases should be asked to absorb overpayments, and be given warnings. Repeat offenders should face disciplinary action.

A common panel of doctors should be established for all insurance companies, rather than each company having its own panel of doctors. Many doctors are ethical and professional, and their good practices on charging should be shared industry-wide.

Insurance companies should have strict protocols to reject patients' bills for unnecessary treatments, such as cosmetic ones.

Doctors should be made aware of this, and be able to explain and reject patients' requests for these.

Insurance companies also should not be allowed to alter existing medical policies and ask Singaporeans to pay for the poor decisions they made in a free market.

Chong Wee Lee