Dr Quek Koh Choon ("Emphasise ethics in health care"; Aug 15) and Mr Alfred Wong Kwok Wai ("Prevent abuse of subsidy scheme"; Aug 16) raised the concern that some clinics on the Community Health Assist Scheme might mark up their charges for patients claiming Chas subsidies.
The Chas scheme has allowed general practitioner (GP) and dental clinics to partner the Ministry of Health (MOH) in making subsidised primary care more accessible to lower- and middle-income Singaporeans within the community.
Come next Monday, all 450,000 pioneer generation Singaporeans will also enjoy subsidised GP and dental services at the Chas clinics.
MOH agrees that as members of a respected profession, doctors are expected to adhere to the highest standard of professionalism and always act in the best interest of their patients.
The Singapore Medical Council's Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines state that doctors cannot abuse the doctor-patient relationship for personal gain. Indeed, the vast majority of our doctors do observe this code and guidelines closely.
Aside from the ethical issues with overcharging, the Chas claims submitted by clinics are monitored by MOH. Clinics have been and will continue to be called upon to account for any exceptional claims.
Prices charged differ from clinic to clinic and from patient to patient, depending on the condition, treatment provided, medication prescribed and length of consult.
We encourage clinics to display their common charges such as consultation fees prominently, and to address any price concerns that patients may have, especially with regard to the type of medication prescribed and its cost. This will make the charges more transparent to patients.
MOH will continue to monitor the situation. Members of the public can contact us on 1800-ASK-CHAS (1800-275-2427) for more information and to provide feedback.
Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Health