Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

ErDr Lee Bee Wah

MP for Nee Soon GRC

Question No. 993

To ask the Minister for Health (a) in the past five years, how many reports of excessive charging by doctors in private practice have been received by the Ministry; (b) whether there is a trend of doctors abusing their patients' medical insurance coverage by overcharging them; and (c) what measures can be taken to regulate such a practice.

Answer

1 MOH receives feedback on a variety of issues, including on doctor fees and charges. Occasionally, there are cases relating to alleged over-charging.

2 Doctors are ethically responsible for charging fair and reasonable fees to their patients. The Singapore Medical Council (SMC) Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines (ECEG) requires doctors to charge reasonably and ensure that their fees are transparent and made known to patients in advance. The SMC can take disciplinary action against errant doctors who do not meet these requirements, and has done so before.

3 MOH is working with healthcare providers on ways to improve fee transparency. MOH has published 'Total Hospital Bill" data for common conditions and "Total Operation Fees" for common surgical procedures for both public and private hospitals. MOH also requires all hospitals to provide patients with financial counselling upon admission. In the outpatient setting, MOH requires all GP and dental clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) scheme to issue itemised bills to CHAS patients, from January this year. These measures ensure more fee transparency and enable patients to make more informed decisions.

4 MOH is also studying the recommendations from the Health Insurance Task Force (HITF) relating to over-charging.

5 Each of us have to play our part to keep our healthcare costs sustainable, while ensuring that patients continue to have access to good quality and appropriate healthcare.

Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore