MOH, CPF Board correct misleading info

They deny couple's claim about being forced to seek cancer treatment at private hospitals

The Health Ministry (MOH) and the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board have issued a statement to correct what they described as misleading information that had been put out after a couple went public with their difficulties in paying for cancer treatment.

The statement yesterday denied allegations that the cancer-stricken wife was forced to seek private treatment at Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) and Mount Elizabeth Hospital, instead of the National University Hospital (NUH).

MOH and the CPF Board also highlighted the help made available to the couple and other options open to them.

This comes after the couple's lawyer, Mr M. Ravi, posted a video on his YouTube channel on Sunday detailing their predicament.

Madam Sarojini Jayapal and Mr Suriia Das, both 47, said their finances had been drained because of her illness.

When Mr Suriia appealed to the CPF Board to use his retirement savings for his wife's medical expenses - she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016 - at a private hospital, his request was denied.

Believing that the NUH implied it had "no hope" of curing her, Madam Sarojini said in the video: "The reason for us to choose a private hospital is not for any kind of luxury, but they are the ones who gave us hope that (I) can survive."

 
 

Mr Suriia, who earns about $3,000 a month as an operations manager, said the private hospitals did not allow him to use his CPF Ordinary and Special accounts to pay for his wife's medical bills.

The authorities, however, have made it clear that she can return to NUH to get subsidised care.

"NUH has offered her an open appointment date should the family decide to transfer to NUH for subsidised care," the statement said.

It added that both NUH and PCC had diagnosed Madam Sarojini’s disease as not curable.

Madam Sarojini is covered by MediShield Life, which has paid out about $60,000 for her medical and hospitalisation bills so far, the statement added, noting she also has additional private insurance coverage under an Integrated Shield Plan.

"Together with MediShield Life, health insurance has paid out over $300,000 to date, covering close to 90 per cent of her medical bills at PCC and Mount Elizabeth Hospital."

She has also been receiving $1,100 a month under other government schemes since October 2017, which has reduced her financial burden, the statement added, pointing out that the couple had withdrawn about $9,000 from their Medisave accounts for her treatment.

The statement said the CPF Board had approved Madam Sarojini's application to withdraw all her savings in her Ordinary and Special accounts of about $25,000, based on PCC's assessment that she was terminally ill.

"Should they face difficulties with their healthcare bills at NUH, they would be able to seek additional financial assistance from Medifund."

Correction note: This story has been edited for clarity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2019, with the headline 'MOH, CPF Board correct misleading info'. Print Edition | Subscribe