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04 Feb 2020

4th Feb 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Ong Teng Koon
MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC

Question No. 3439

To ask the Minister for Health whether the Ministry can offer patients who receive mental health treatment more protection against discrimination by their employers by giving patients the option not to disclose the treatment received and the medicine prescribed in their medical bills that are used for reimbursement purposes.

Written Reply

1        Currently, under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics Regulations (PHMCR), all medical clinic licensees are required to provide itemised bills for medical treatment provided.  This provides greater price transparency and enables the public to make informed choices.

2        An employer is required under the Employment Act to pay for medical consultations of an employee who has worked for at least 3 months and received at least one day of paid sick leave as certified by a medical practitioner from an approved public medical institution or appointed by the company.  While Human Resource (HR) practices for medical reimbursement may vary across companies, no further details on a patient’s condition or medical treatment would be released to an employer by the medical institution without the employee’s explicit consent, due to patient confidentiality.

3        It is important to continue our efforts to reduce the social stigma of mental health conditions such that persons with mental health conditions will face less risk of discrimination.  To this end, efforts have been made to increase awareness of and de-stigmatise mental health conditions.  For example, the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), in partnership with the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), has launched an anti-stigma campaign called “Beyond the Label”, which seeks to facilitate conversation about mental health, positively influence the public’s perception of individuals with mental health conditions, and to educate and equip the public to support them in their recovery.  MOH also works with partners such as the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) to educate specific target groups regarding mental well-being, such as through workplaces and schools.  MOH has also implemented initiatives under the Community Mental Health Masterplan in 2012 to better identify individuals at risk of mental health conditions and support them with appropriate referrals to access care.  The Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) recently revised their guidelines for job application forms to state that declarations on mental health conditions on job applications forms are discriminatory and should be removed unless there is a good reason to require that information.  This was a positive step in de-stigmatising mental health conditions in society.  For individuals who feel they have faced unfair discrimination in the workplace, they can also approach TAFEP for advice and help.

4        We continue to work towards a more inclusive society which supports those with mental health conditions.   

Category: Parliamentary QA