Worry over healthcare abuse

PHOTO: Worry over healthcare abuse

SINGAPORE - While most cheered the recommendations by the MediShield Life Review Committee, there are some concerns as to whether the benefits will be overused.

Experts that My Paper spoke to said that the insurance plan needs to be closely monitored on this score.

Phua Kai Hong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy worries that, since they have to pay less themselves, people might be tempted to go to doctors and hospitals more freely.

The hospitals, in turn, could pass on the bills to the Government and the healthcare system may come under stress.

In particular, he highlighted the proposed co-insurance rates which have been reduced from 20 per cent for outpatient to 10 per cent. The rates for inpatient costs likewise fell, from 10 to 20 per cent, to 3 to 10 per cent.

“If you’re going to keep on fuelling consumption..., there’s going to be no end to it if rules are not made clear,” he added.

Higher claims are expected from those with pre-existing conditions and the Government has agreed to bear most costs of universal coverage.

When asked about the concern of younger people having to pay more for this policy, Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health Dr Chia Shi-Lu, told My Paper that the general sentiment he gets from the ground is that most do not mind paying more while they are younger so the rate of increase will be less in the future.

He also welcomed the recommendations to increase the claim limit for outpatient cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. “The problem with cancer is that you get treatments that come up which are very, very expensive and, most of the time, there are no cheaper alternatives,” said Dr Chia, who is a Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC.

Dr Chia also could not rule out the problem of overuse. “There may be a big jump in patients that need treatment. Some really need it, some may not. We don’t know... but I trust that the majority of Singaporeans are sensible.”

Lili Lim, 38, welcomed the recommendations to include those with pre-existing medical conditions. She found it difficult to get insurance coverage for her two-year-old daughter who had suffered from a duplex left kidney condition.

“Some of them had very stringent requests and required me to produce different kinds of medical reports,” said Madam Lim.


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