Claims scrutiny on more clinics

MORE clinics are under probe for possibly cheating the Ministry of Health (MOH) when claiming subsidies for patients under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas).

Two dental clinics have already been suspended from the scheme starting this Friday.

The ministry told The Straits Times that it has asked the police to look into more questionable claims, made by an unspecified number of other clinics, under Chas.

The scheme lets private clinics treat patients who are eligible for a government subsidy, and claim the subsidy from MOH.

Last week, MOH announced the suspension of two dental clinics - Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade - from Chas.

It had filed a police report against them for possible fraud on April 22.

It took action when told that the police had started formal investigations on the clinics.

Under Chas, the MOH has to give a clinic 15 days' notice of termination so the clinics facing suspension are on Chas until July 8.

MOH said it has "also referred other clinics to the police for further investigation".

But it would not say if the other clinics are dental or general practice (GP) establishments.

About 1,500 clinics are on the Chas scheme.

The possible cheating cases surfaced through regular audits by the ministry as well as from a patient's complaints.

In the case of the two clinics facing suspension from Chas, the MOH spokesman said: "While we were auditing the clinics, we also received a patient complaint that Phoenix Dental had submitted claims for procedures which had not been done for the said patient."

Patrick Tseng, Singapore's chief dental officer, said: "MOH takes a serious view of fraudulent claims and unlawful practice behaviour, and we will take necessary action if we suspect any such activity."

The audits have turned up cases of non-compliance but many are unintentional or administrative errors, such as entering the wrong date for a procedure or not getting patients to sign the consent form.

The ministry spokesman said the MOH will recover any subsidies paid out through incorrect claims.

Last year, Chas paid out $167 million in subsidies to general practitioners and dental clinics for treating 650,000 Singaporean patients.

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