Dentist admits to cheating over Medisave claims

Steven Ang Kiam Hau pleaded guilty to 30 cheating charges involving five patients and $65,858.
Steven Ang Kiam Hau pleaded guilty to 30 cheating charges involving five patients and $65,858.

A dentist came up with a bogus claims scam that saw more than $400,000 from his patients' Medisave accounts paid to the clinic where he worked.

Dentist Steven Ang Kiam Hau would offer underprivileged patients lower rates than those charged at other clinics before making dishonest claims from their Medisave accounts with their consent. But his company's managing director allegedly decided to open the scheme to others when he found out.

Ang, 43, who joined Smile in 2007 and came up with the scheme two years later, admitted in a district court that he had duped the Central Provident Fund Board into disbursing $434,241 from 14 patients' Medisave accounts to The Smile Division Dental Surgeons @ Orchard.

He pleaded guilty yesterday to 30 cheating charges involving five patients and $65,858. Another 253 charges involving the remaining amount will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Guan Siew explained that documents needed to be prepared before submitting each Medisave claim. They include a letter of certification, in which a medical practitioner certifies that a procedure was performed and the fees to be charged are payable.

Ang would certify that day surgeries had been done on multiple dates when, in fact, they were done in a day, or two at most. As a result, the CPF Board would be induced into disbursing multiple claim amounts to his Lucky Plaza clinic.

For new patients, Ang wouldgive an estimate of the cost of the treatment. Ang's staff would then get them to show their Medisave account balance on the CPF Board's website. If patients were unable to pay cash, they would be offered a package with rates lower than those charged elsewhere. If patients agreed to use their Medisave savings for treatment, Ang would arrange for claims to be made.

DPP Teo said that for dental implants, Ang "would submit, on behalf of the patient, multiple Medisave claims based on fictitious surgery dates on which no surgery was in fact carried out, so as to circumvent the withdrawal limits".

DPP Teo also said Ang's share of the net fees was 56 per cent while Smile was entitled to the rest.

The dental group's managing director Cecil Goh Chin Chye, 48, found out about the scheme in 2011 and saw it as a way to attract more patients, the court heard.

Goh and Ang agreed the scheme should continue at the Lucky Plaza clinic and not be just for underprivileged patients. Goh is said to have decided to implement this scheme in other Smile clinics. The offences came to light after the Ministry of Health made a police report on July 14, 2014, following an audit.

DPP Teo said Ang paid more than $535,000 to the CPF Board on Dec 21 last year, which included the initial amount plus 4 per cent interest per annum. This was later disbursed to the affected patients' Medisave accounts.

Cases involving Goh, Smile's practice manager Yeo Meow Koon, 47, and dentist Daniel Liew Yaoxiang, 36, are still pending. Ang is out on bail of $250,000 and will be back in court on June 26.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2018, with the headline 'Dentist admits to cheating over Medisave claims'. Print Edition | Subscribe