Review 'pay first, claim later' practice

PHOTO: Review 'pay first, claim later' practice

My mother was recently admitted to a private hospital for cataract surgery.

She had purchased a Medisave-approved private Integrated Shield Plan with a rider a few years ago, which allows her to seek medical care in a private hospital and better manage her health-care costs.

The plan provides "as charged" coverage while the rider requires a co-payment of 10 per cent, or up to $3,000 per policy year.

When she was admitted, however, she had to put up a $5,000 deposit. Upon her discharge, she had to pay her hospitalisation bill of around $10,000 before she could file a claim with the insurer.

I was told that all private Integrated Shield Plan providers have the same claims procedure - patients had to pay their bills first before they could file their claims.

I wonder why insurers make it such a hassle to foot the bill, and why the Ministry of Health allows such a practice when it is evident that the patient has the necessary insurance coverage.

What if the hospitalisation bill is $60,000? How many people would have that kind of cash on hand?

The last thing a patient should worry about when facing a medical emergency is his cash flow.

Max Leong

This article was first published on Oct 24, 2014.
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