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84yo ahpek exposes how public healthcare institutions use Medishield Life to ripoff patients

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Old 28-09-2019, 11:38 AM   #1
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[SAGA] 84yo ahpek exposes how public healthcare institutions use Medishield Life to ripoff patients

https://www.straitstimes.com/world/h...-health-system



World News Day: How a dogged 84-year-old shook up Singapore's health system

Getting old and paying for healthcare is an increasing worry for many people around the world, but the elderly in Singapore could be forgiven for thinking their problems would be sorted.

After all, the Republic's healthcare system ranks among the best in the world, delivering basic, affordable treatment for those who qualify. And this is not all on the taxpayer - individuals pay an initial amount and then a national health insurance scheme kicks in.

The compulsory health insurance scheme, MediShield Life, was introduced in 2015 to help with the needs of a rapidly ageing population, as families worried about the large medical bills that can arise when a loved one becomes frail.

But the recent case of 84-year-old Seow Ban Yam revealed that for some, the worry had not gone away.

He was shocked when he received a medical bill of thousands of dollars from the Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), and for which he received only $4.50 in insurance payment.

The normally mild-mannered Mr Seow took it upon himself to challenge the bill, writing to the hospital authorities and insurance administrators to get to the bottom of why he was being charged so much.

The explanation that everything was in order merely confused him further. He did not understand why a public institution would charge him $3,664, after government subsidies, when the maximum amount he could claim under MediShield Life for his surgery was $2,800.

Wondering if he had got his sums wrong, Mr Seow wrote a letter to The Straits Times, saying: "Hopefully, you can find my case worth looking into, not only for myself, but also for the sake of the many people like me who otherwise are not aware of what a MediShield Life claim entails.

"We all think that MediShield Life is to subsidise large hospital bills. It is only when one goes through some kind of operation will one know it may not be true."

What The Straits Times discovered, as a result of Mr Seow's case, shocked even those in the upper echelons of the Ministry of Health (MOH) - that at least one public health institution had raised fees to levels much higher than those covered by the national health insurance scheme.

In Mr Seow's case, the subsidised bill from the SNEC was 50 per cent higher than the claim limit for that procedure.

The wider implication was that thousands of patients in Singapore were probably in the same boat as Mr Seow, getting bills from public institutions which exceeded the claim limits set by MediShield Life.

As a result, the issue was raised in Parliament in January and the Government decided to review national health insurance claim limits every three years instead of five.

There was more good news for those who need the system to deliver basic, affordable healthcare. In March, the SNEC cut its fees for 20 procedures by between 15 per cent and 32 per cent. This could reduce the bill for 14,500 procedures done each year at the centre.

WHY IT MATTERED

What got Mr Seow so riled up and made the issue such a talking point was that when MediShield Life was introduced, the Government made a promise that lower-income people need never fear having to foot big medical bills entirely by themselves for treatment at public hospitals.
[LOL....70% still trust the PAP govt's promises? ]

The aim was to cover 90 per cent of the bill for 90 per cent of patients beyond the initial deductible and co-payment over that.

Mr Seow's complaint led to the discovery that, in the years since MediShield Life was launched, full coverage had in fact dropped to 80 per cent of patients with large, fully subsidised bills.

This affected patients who need a helping hand - about a third of four million Singapore residents rely entirely on MediShield Life for their health insurance.



HOW THE PROBLEM CAME TO LIGHT

So how did Mr Seow, a retiree who lives in a subsidised government apartment, end up being a healthcare hero for the needy?

It began in 2017 when he went to the SNEC for two operations to unblock the tear ducts in both eyes, in preparation for cataract surgery.

Mr Seow knew he would have to pay 10 per cent of the bill after the deductible, which is capped at $3,000 a year for those over 80, so he expected to pay a total of $3,148.

But he ended up paying $4,472.30 instead, as the bill exceeded the claim limit by $1,472, including fees for room and board, as well as the operation.

The latter alone was limited to $2,800. This capped amount is stated in MOH's table for surgical procedures, though there is no explanation for how the amount is derived.

Said Mr Seow: "The whole idea of MediShield Life is to meet heavy bills. I don't understand why it is limited to $2,800 when the bill is more than $4,000. This defeats the purpose of insurance."

MediShield Life determined it could pay out $3,005, but there was just $5 to take care of after Mr Seow paid the deductible. Of that, MediShield Life paid $4.50, minus his co-payment of 10 per cent.

Fortunately, Mr Seow did not need to take out a bank loan for the overall bill - he could pay the amount from a long-established national scheme where workers pay into designated savings accounts, including one for healthcare called Medisave.

In January, addressing The Straits Times' report on Mr Seow's plight, Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong announced more regular reviews of claim limits that cap national health insurance coverage.

He also promised: "We will continue to review, refine and strengthen MediShield Life and other components of our public healthcare financing system, and just as importantly, manage our healthcare costs to ensure that public healthcare remains affordable for all Singaporeans."

As for Mr Seow, his dogged pursuit of his case will benefit those who undergo similar procedures.

Patients who need the same surgery he did - dacryocystorhinostomy (duct drainage surgery) - as well as procedures such as glaucoma surgery with implants and retinal detachment surgery, "will see subsidised bill sizes lowered by an average of 25 per cent", said a spokesman for the SNEC.

And what of the amount that Mr Seow had to pay for himself?

The SNEC offered Mr Seow a goodwill payment - close to the amount MediShield Life would have covered if the entire bill had been within the limits set.
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:46 AM   #2
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Health care become a lucrative business. Pui

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Old 28-09-2019, 11:47 AM   #3
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70% sinkies still haven't woken up yet?...kena con & ripoff left right centre still blur blur........
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:50 AM   #4
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Who has Mr Siao been voting for?
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:50 AM   #5
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"shocked even those in the upper echelons of the Ministry of Health (MOH)"

OK......
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:51 AM   #6
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Health care become a lucrative business. Pui

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+ Insurance goes hand in hand.

Health care increase = insurance premium increase
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:51 AM   #7
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70% sinkies still haven't woken up yet?...kena con & ripoff left right centre still blur blur........
Haven kena yet or not affected, so turn a blind eyes to all this news.
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:52 AM   #8
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Govt hospitals same as private hospitals it is all about making profit.
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:53 AM   #9
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Moi was here


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Old 28-09-2019, 11:54 AM   #10
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Health care become a lucrative business. Pui

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That why pap want the whole slice of it.
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:56 AM   #11
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hahah.. a fine example of ownself check ownself it seems.
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:57 AM   #12
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In before PAP IBs reply

Who did he vote for?

I remember last time MOH website showed that 10% of claims exceed the limit of Medishield payout. Therefore they advised CPF members to upgrade to Medishield IP.

Seems like cannot trust MOH statistics anymore since they admitted to sleeping on the job, until this old Ah Pek challenged the system. 5 year review one time still cannot keep up with inflation. MOH never find out the reason? Is it profiteering?
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:57 AM   #13
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5 years review cannot keep up with the rising medical cost. This is something wrong with the medical healthcare charges rather than the period of the review. Morons, morons and more morons.
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Old 28-09-2019, 11:58 AM   #14
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Any heads have rolled for such mistakes?
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Old 28-09-2019, 12:01 PM   #15
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Any heads have rolled for such mistakes?
why heads need to roll?....they are making tons of $ for the govt......
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