Private healthcare prices reflect commercial conditions

Private doctors work under the same commercial conditions as everyone else who operates a business (Many 'hidden' reasons for rise in healthcare costs, by Mr Edmund Khoo Kim Hock; Forum Online, April 13).

No one should mistake them for charitable institutions; private medical services' raison d'etre is as much for profit as it is for healing.

It is true that skyrocketing clinic rental contributes to increasing healthcare costs.

Renting a small clinic space in a Housing Board estate can cost $30,000 monthly. Public health institutions do not incur this recurring cost.

Fee splitting, or kickbacks from specialists to general practitioners for referrals to them, is unethical. But offering serological or radiological services in-clinic at list prices is not.

The prices of services and consumables are not arbitrary, but a reflection of their costs. And private institutions cannot afford to offer services at cost.

Doctors are grateful when big pharma sponsors weekend forums and symposiums.

These continuing medical education sessions are useful and instructive, and give doctors more insight into better therapeutic outcomes.

The "free lunch" is a slight recompense for the precious time doctors take to attend such events. It does not mean patients end up paying more for treatment.

Pharmaceutical sponsors do not tend to ingratiate themselves to doctors during these sessions, knowing well that hard-nosed veteran doctors have heard it all before and can easily differentiate between true treatment advancement and mere spiel.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)