Mailbox: Introduce checks to ensure affordable, sustainable system

PHOTO: Mailbox: Introduce checks to ensure affordable, sustainable system

Some doctors have written on the subject of high health-care charges ("Reasons for soaring private health-care costs" by Dr Tang Kok Foo, last Thursday; "Consider fee guidelines, medical oversight" by Dr Ong Siew Chey, last Friday; and "Medical advances come at a cost" by Dr George Wong Seow Choon, last Saturday).

The key is "value for money".

Because of information asymmetry, patients often do not have enough understanding to evaluate the treatments they are receiving. Also, certain aspects of financial aid schemes need to be reviewed.

For the Community Health Assist Scheme to be really useful, users should co-pay a fixed amount rather than get a fixed subsidy. This is done in some countries.

The Government has the expertise to better evaluate the reimbursement to be made to health practitioners. Perhaps this could be determined by a tripartite body comprising representatives from the Government, private sector and independent consumer organisations.

For MediShield Life, the need to minimise moral hazard is very real, to keep utilisation to justifiable limits.

The provision of "as charged" benefits (in private plans) may be comforting in the short run, but will hit us in the form of higher premiums subsequently.

Let us discuss this matter openly.

I also urge the the relevant bodies to put in place vital checks and balances to ensure a more affordable, sustainable system that will truly bring peace of mind to all.

Lee Hin Peng

This article was first published on Aug 19, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.