Possibility of excessive charges by doctors

16 September 2013

Question No. 1471

Name of Person:  Ms Mary Liew

Question

To ask the Minister for Health what are the plans and supervisory mechanisms put in place to monitor the possibility of excessive charges by doctors so that healthcare, especially specialist health care, will stay affordable for lower-income Singaporeans.

 

Answer

1.                 As Singaporeans live longer, and with better, more advanced but more expensive treatment being available and accepted as mainstream treatment approach, healthcare costs will rise over time.

2.                 In the public healthcare sector, the management of the various institutions monitor their operating costs closely and constantly strive to innovate and find new and more cost effective ways to deliver their services.  We also monitor the doctors’ fees and the overall bill sizes closely to ensure that basic healthcare services provided by our public institutions remain affordable, especially for the lower- and middle-income patients.

3.                 We are also working towards empowering patients in making decisions on healthcare services. For this reason, MOH has been publishing total hospital bill sizes for both the public and private sector on its website since 2003.  Greater transparency of healthcare charges will allow market forces to work more efficiently and help patients make informed decisions.  MOH is studying the proposal to make professional fees more transparent by publishing information on fees that our public sector doctors have charged for their services.

4.                   At this year’s National Day Rally, PM announced the Government’s plans to provide more subsidies for lower- and middle-income Singaporeans who require specialist outpatient care at our public hospitals, so that they will pay less.  We are currently working on the details and will share more information in the first quarter of 2014.

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