Thursday, May 17, 2012
Health Care Cost: $86 for a Common Flu?
My friend went to see a doctor during May Day (1st May) for a common flu and he was charged $86.40 for it. This clinic is situated at Clementi Centre, right in the HDB heartland. My friend has insisted that I could just put up his name and address up with this bill and not blank these out before I post it.
Well, my friend could well afford the cost but he was thinking to himself, how could those lower wage workers living in Clementi afford it?
That could well mean almost 9% of their monthly pay if they earn only $1000 per month! PAP claims that household earning $1000 could well afford a HDB flat but I am doubtful about that. Maybe they didn't factor in all these costs like medical fee that they would have to pay if they fall sick.
Incidentally, some friends were telling me that MOH (Ministry of Health) has set up a "certification" scheme to enhance confidence of foreign medical tourists on our healthcare services. All medical equipment and supplies are supposed to be sent for certification before clinics and hospitals could use them here. These could well include just that little handy-plus plasters they issue you. Of course, certification will come with a fee.
I am not very sure how effective this scheme will benefit Singaporeans but it may benefit those hospitals (both private and "restructured" hospitals) which was involved in luring medical tourists. But wait, aren't we suffering shortage of hospital beds in our public/restructured hospitals? Why are these hospitals involved in making money from medical tourists in the first place? Aren't they supposed to take care of Singaporeans first?
Nevertheless, I believe that such certification scheme will definitely raise the cost of medical supplies that clinics are using. Obviously most doctors would just transfer these extra cost unto their patients!
I still believe that there are good doctors around in Singapore. Some clinics charges reasonably in HDB heartland. These doctors do not just aim to make big money out of their profession but apparently, they are happy to provide medical services to help people. But these doctors are becoming extinct. Most of the time, these doctors own the property which their clinic resides, thus they are not affected by the horrendous rental increases over the year.
Medical services like simple GP are getting expensive due to a few reasons. Big Medical groups tend to jack up the rental when they bid for clinic space and in the end, who suffer? These medical cartels have slowly monopolized basic healthcare services to Singaporeans and they know they could easily transferred any rise in cost to Singaporeans.
The build up of Medical groups should provide economies of scale to cut cost with bulk purchase and such. The savings from such lower cost should benefit patients but it seems that things don't work that way. Medical groups are acting like trade cartels and exercising their localized monopoly power, making Singaporeans paying more for healthcare services.
Poly Clinic actually uses the pricing from these big medical groups as a benchmark for their services. From that high pricing, MOH claims to give "hefty market subsidy" which is actually just a discount from high prices set by these cartels. This is why sometimes you would find that in spite of the claim of "Hefty Market Subsidy", the fees you pay to Poly Clinic for similar healthcare services could well be higher than your neighborhood independent clinic!
What is this country becoming to?
Goh Meng Seng