Errant Chas claims: 2 dental clinics under probe close down

Phoenix Dental Surgery in Marine Parade Central with its shutters down on May 11.
Phoenix Dental Surgery in Marine Parade Central with its shutters down on May 11. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The two dental clinics under police probe for allegedly cheating the Government through the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) have closed.

One has its shutters down, while the other premises have been taken over by a salon.

In July last year, the Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade were taken off Chas, which meant they could no longer get government subsidies for their patients.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) did this because "both clinics have continuously made claims that are non-compliant with MOH rules and guidelines. This includes a number of claims for procedures which, based on the audit findings, were not performed".

The ministry had filed a police report for possible criminal offences.

In 2015, the MOH paid out $167 million in subsidies to cover treatment for 650,000 people at these private clinics.

But while the police are still investigating the cases, until and unless charges are levelled against them, the clinics could have continued operating.

Instead, one of the two dentists who set up those clinics, Dr Teo Eu Gene, has joined the FDC Dental Group and works at its Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio clinics.

The other dentist, Dr Cheng Jean-Lynn, is currently not working, according to the Singapore Dental Council, which registers all dentists here.

The two Phoenix clinics were the first to be taken off Chas by the MOH.

Recently, MOH said it plans to take three general practitioner (GP) clinics off unless a satisfactory explanation is given for their Chas claims.

These clinics had claimed for consultations and treatments that were not done.

The ministry said it has made a police report and plans to refer the doctors involved to the Singapore Medical Council, the medical professional watchdog.

The Chas scheme allows pioneers and lower-income people to enjoy government subsidies at 950 GP and 700 dental clinics. This frees up polyclinics and is also more convenient for patients.

In many cases, patients pay little or nothing for their treatment. The clinics submit online claims to the ministry for reimbursement. Patients rarely know what the clinics claim on their behalf.

In 2015, the MOH paid out $167 million in subsidies to cover treatment for 650,000 people at these private clinics.

From this year, all clinics are required by MOH to provide patients with itemised bills, including the amount of subsidy.

For pioneers who get the highest subsidy, Chas pays up to $28.50 when they see a GP for common problems, and as much as $135 for complex chronic ailments. Dental claims can go up to $266.50.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 14, 2017, with the headline 'Errant Chas claims: 2 dental clinics under probe close down'. Print Edition | Subscribe