SNEC patient welcomes decision to adjust charges

Mr Seow Ban Yam's subsidised bill for surgery to unblock the flow of his tears came to $4,477, but MediShield Life covered only $4.50.
Mr Seow Ban Yam's subsidised bill for surgery to unblock the flow of his tears came to $4,477, but MediShield Life covered only $4.50.ST FILE PHOTO

Mr Seow Ban Yam, 83, is delighted at the Singapore National Eye Centre's (SNEC) decision to review and adjust its charges.

"This will help many other people," he said. He had gone for surgery to unblock the flow of his tears in 2017.

His subsidised bill came to $4,477, but MediShield Life covered only $4.50 of it.

He found the insurance cover "ridiculous", and wrote to the Central Provident Fund Board to ask if there had been a mistake.

According to his calculations, MediShield Life should have paid more than $1,300, or about 10 per cent, of the bill, after the deductible of $3,000. But the board told him there was no mistake.

The reason for the low insurance payout was that the subsidised bill from the SNEC was 50 per cent higher than the claim limit for that procedure.

After his case was highlighted in The Straits Times, SNEC chief operating officer Charity Wai said the centre will introduce fee revisions from March.

 
 

This will "better align a wider range of procedures with Medisave and MediShield claim limits", she said. It would include reducing the charge for the treatment Mr Seow had gone for.

She explained that the centre adjusts its charges periodically "to strike a balance between cost recovery and patient affordability". Ms Wai said that for common procedures like cataract and glaucoma operations, patients can pay with Medisave and need "minimum cash outlay".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2019, with the headline 'SNEC patient welcomes decision to adjust charges'. Print Edition | Subscribe