Diagnosing the cause of rising costs

The recent warning to doctors not to overcharge or overtreat patients is just the latest of several measures the authorities are taking to combat the rapidly rising cost of healthcare here.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) started working on this issue several years ago.

One of the first steps taken was to form the Health Insurance Task Force to look at why health insurance premiums were rising so rapidly.

Its detailed report was released in 2016, highlighting possible causes and solutions.

One of the main drivers for escalating costs was the group with expensive Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) and full riders.

Their claims for treatment at private hospitals were 60 per cent higher than people with the same IP but no rider.

Furthermore, the people with full riders were generally younger and healthier.

 A variety of factors are linked to the higher claims, including that of overcharging and overtreatment.     

This prompted the professional watchdog, the Singapore Medical Council, to issue a warning last week to all 13,500 doctors in Singapore against overcharging and overtreating their patients.

Such acts are a breach of medical ethics and action might be taken against those who do so, said the council.

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 25, 2018, with the headline 'Diagnosing the cause of rising costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe