As an Integrated Shield Plan policyholder, I too feel the impact of premium hikes and having panels of doctors implemented to help curb excessive claims. But I am more curious about the Singapore Medical Association's (SMA) remarks in the discussions.
Among the points its members have raised, only one deals with the well-being of patients, where they fear the discontinuity of medical care - a valid and important reason.
They note that only 21 per cent of all doctors on the panels are private specialists and point out that they are mostly paid at the lower end of the fee benchmarks.
The way I see it, the insurers are looking to control costs. The highest benchmark fee for a procedure "can be up to five times" the lowest recommended price, the Life Insurance Association Singapore said.
I agree that insurers should look to contain their non-claim costs. But shouldn't the SMA also look at how their members charge patients?
While the SMA lays the blame on insurers for having come up with riders covering the full cost of medical bills, its members are ironically the greatest beneficiaries. They did not complain that it was unsustainable when billing patients.
Is it really only insurers' fault that full riders became unsustainable?
I have no qualms with doctors being well compensated for saving lives.
But the welfare of patients should always be the priority.
Mervyn Song Chee Khin