Task Force Findings: Cut Healthcare Costs by Making Patients with Insurance Pay Part of their Bill

So you’ve bought an insurance plan that covers your entire medical bill.

Congratulations, a task force set up to rein in healthcare costs has recommended that you should now have your policy tweaked so that you’ll need to fork out money to pay part of the medical bill.

The 11-member task force includes members from the Life Insurance Association of Singapore, Ministry of Health and Monetary Authority of Singapore.

They found that the cost of healthcare in the private hospitals is higher than what private patients in public hospitals pay, and one of the reasons is more people are signing up for insurance that pays the whole cost of their treatments.

The number of people who have bought riders, which cover their entire medical bill, has gone up from less than one in five residents in 2011 to one in three today.

These patients with riders generally incur bills that are 20-25 percent higher than those who have to bear a share of the cost.

Because increasing insurance payouts, people have to pay higher premiums.

So, the task force has suggested the six insurance companies offering IPs tweak their products so patients pay a share of the bill to prevent the “buffet syndrome” which occurs when patients are “insulated from the cost”.

Besides this, the task force has recommended implementing fee guidelines to reduce overcharging and to “empower insurers to detect inflated claims”.

Such guidelines are currently not allowed as they are seen as anti-competition.

The task force has recommended the streamlining of the current process so insurers can raise suspected inappropriate or excessive medical treatments to the Singapore Medical Council.

In addition to this, insurers should have a panel of preferred healthcare providers who charge reasonable fees to help manage costs, and allow patients to opt for other doctors or hospitals.

The task force has also suggested making it necessary for insurer to complete a pre-authorisation form for treatments, so the insurer can “assess the medical necessity” and so patients know that the treatment is covered by their insurance.

The MOH has hailed the task force’s report as “timely and commendable”.



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