SINGAPORE - Two dentists on Friday (Oct 18) became the first to be charged with cheating the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas).
Dr Teo Eu Gene, 36, and Dr Andy Joshua Warren, 34, both formerly working at Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics, were charged with cheating and falsifying accounts between August 2014 and October 2015.
Dr Teo, who worked at the Phoenix Dental Surgery clinic in Marine Parade, faces 60 charges while Dr Warren has 24 charges.
Dr Warren's charges include cheating the Central Provident Fund (CPF) by making false Medisave claims for treatment that were not done.
At the time of the offence, Dr Warren was practising under the name of Dr Ng Yu Ming. He changed his name with a deed poll in 2017.
The two dentists are accused of making false claims with regard to 23 people for sums totalling more than $54,000.
Both offences - cheating and falsifying records - carry penalties of a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine. They are out on bail of $20,000 each.
Two Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics were taken off Chas in 2016, which means they can no longer offer their patients the government subsidy.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) rolled out Chas in 2012 to offer lower-income patients subsidies for treatments at medical and dental clinics.
It has since been extended to include those from the Pioneer Generation, and from next month, the Merdeka Generation as well as all Singaporeans with chronic ailments.
MOH had filed police reports against dentists working at Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics for making claims for treatments that they had allegedly not done.
The two are not the first dentists to be in the soup for cheating the authorities.
Steven Ang Kiam Hau, 44, of The Smile Division Surgeons @ Orchard, was sentenced in 2018 to 30 months' jail for cheating the CPF of $434,241 from 14 patients' Medisave accounts. He has also been struck off the Dental Register.
Daniel Liew Yaoxiang, also from the same clinic, was jailed two years for duping the CPF into paying out $388,700 from 13 patients' Medisave accounts, leaving most of them with nothing left in Medisave.
Both dentists have made full restitution to the CPF.
The MOH has made police reports against several other clinics, both dental and medical, for possible fraud.
Last year, $152 million was disbursed under Chas, of which $64 million was given out for dental treatment.
Depending on the procedure, dental claims from Chas can top $260 per treatment.
The peak for dental claims was in 2015 when $81 million was disbursed.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) told The Straits Times: "Since CHAS was launched in 2012, 17 clinics have been suspended from the scheme. The dental clinics suspended to date include Phoenix Dental Surgery Clinics in 2016 and King's Dental Surgery in 2019."