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Former NTUC Income Chief: Health Ministry Must Stop Doctors from Overcharging Patients

Former NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian, has spoken out against the Health Ministry’s to mandate co-payment by consumers who buy riders for Integrated Shield Plans.

Tan, who is now the President of the Financial Services Consumer Association, said that over the long term, it’s more important to address the problem of rising charges for treatment by healthcare service providers.

(READ: Why is the Government Penalising Consumers while using Kid’s Gloves on Rogue Doctors and Insurance Firms?)

Tan said that it is important for the government to roll out a standardised system for fees of healthcare procedures, and make sure that healthcare service providers do not overcharge consumers.

(READ: Prudential Insurance Customers Could See Integrated Shield Premiums Rise by 300 Percent)

This is Tan’s take on the mandatory co-payment component for full-rider policies:

“The Ministry of Health has announced that new riders for all Integrated Shield Plans should have a co-payment of at least 5 per cent of the hospital bill, subject to a cap.

I wish to suggest a more holistic approach to this matter.

The Integrated Shield Plans comprise a MediShield Life portion managed by the Central Provident Fund (CPF), and another portion with extra coverage by private insurers.

The problem with the Standard Integrated Shield Plan is the high deductible, the fixed amount in cash the claimant has to pay before insurance payout kicks in.

There is no need to have a deductible to deter patients from staying in the hospital. They go for treatment out of necessity, rather than choice.

If the deductible is removed, there is no need for policyholders to buy a rider.

The co-payment of 10 per cent that is found in the Standard Integrated Shield Plan can remain, and a cap can be placed on that.

Over the longer term, we also need to address the problem of the escalating charges for treatment in hospitals and specialists.

I suggest that the Ministry of Health study the system used in Japan. Each year, their ministry negotiates with hospitals and doctors on the fixed fees to be charged for most kinds of medical procedures.

I understand that the providers have to follow strictly to these fees and are not allowed to make extra billings on the patients.

We can adopt the same approach for all treatments that are covered Medisave, Medishield Life and the integrated plans.

I believe that this approach will address the root of the problem and will also reduce the cost of administration of the financial payments for healthcare.”



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