1/29/2011

$147k for a C Class hospital bill

Tan Guan Seng, calling himself an average Singaporean worker, was served with a C Class ward hospital bill from NUH. After deducting from company’s insurance, from Medisave, Medishield, he is still left with $50k outstanding. He probably forgot about the 3rd M which could reduce his bill to $8 like someone with a major heart operation. The facts of this case include the following: it is a work accident so no subsidy. The family ‘request to upgrade him to a private ward, the hospital’s staff informed her that the estimated bill would exceed the quantum to be borne by …Work Injury Compensation Act …at a cap of 25k.’ Also hospital has discretion to downgrade when it found patients may have difficulties to pay. Did the request for upgrading got through? Did the hospital downgrade the patient subsequently? These were left hanging without confirmation. As they were mentioned in the hospital’s reply, they must have happened. Otherwise they were unnecessary information to talk about. There were several issues that are interesting. Firstly, Singaporeans must be thankful that their lives are now so worthy that hospitals could easily charge them a few hundred thousand for admission. People with cheap lives will not pay such ransom and choose to die. The Work Injury Compensation Act needs a revision as the quantum provided to protect work injury accidents is definitely inadequate. The minimum sum insured should be at least $150k and increasing every year to meet the rising cost of hospitalisation. Insurance companies are smiling now. The vicious cycle is starting, much like motor insurance. It seems a norm that patients admitted to hospitals would like to upgrade, like upgrading from HDB flats to private properties. No one seems to ask how much would it cost. Or they may believe that with 3Ms, they only need to pay $8 or around that sum. The question is why the hospital never do a mean testing to make sure that patients who cannot pay cannot be upgraded? It seems that mean testing is to ensure that patients should stay in more expensive wards than the other way round. Oh, in this case the hospital did a downgrading subsequently I think. Otherwise the bill could be $300K. There are many issues and things to do to ensure that workers can afford to pay for their expensive lives. For one, the govt should not encourage the mindset of upgrading in hospitalisation. Perhaps only two classes of wards should be provided to keep the ignoramus out of harm and suddenly claimed ignorance and unable to pay when a handsome hospital bill is presented to them on a gold platter. (Come to think of it, this should be the manner to serve a bill of that size, by a specially appointed emissary). Just have a ward called Very Expensive Ward for the rich and those who can afford to pay. And Very Good Ward for the rest of the people at subsidised rate that is ‘affordable’ to the masses. Calling it Very Good will make the masses feel good. And calling the expensive ward expensive will remind them that it will not cost only $8 but $800k. Simple people need simple solution. The masses have a thinking brain and thinking pattern that are very different from the super talents, and very strange. The smart ones will always want to be admitted to cheaper wards which ended with a reprisal in the form of Mean Testing. The silly ones just don’t care and would want the best wards even if they cannot afford to pay. Paying is the last thing in their minds. Maybe the govt should seriously consider applying the mean testing to make sure people who cannot pay be admitted into cheaper wards and not the other way round. Of course there will be outcry by the people who would accuse the govt for not seeing them up and ill treating them and putting them in low class wards. That is why I suggested only two types of wards. Very Expensive Wards and Very Good Wards to cater to the rich and the masses.

4 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

Bureaucratic cock-up lah. No big deal.

Everyone has to pay for food -- it is necessary for life.

Similarly, everyone will get sick and has to pay for health care - as it too is necessary for life.

Using the "can't afford" argument is a weak position.

Another truism which goes as one of the consequences of the first political truism about the people getting the government they deserve:

The Government which gives the people everything can take away any thing and everything any time for any reason including no reason at all

Anonymous said...

Upgrading the insurance cover?

Do that and the hospital will upgrade their charges because they know the insurers will take care of the major part of the bill.

It is a vicious cycle alright. That is why even in the US, many cannot even afford the insurance premiums. The health care providers and the insurers are outdoing each other to skin those will happen to fall sick.

Anonymous said...

NO Money! You die your business!
And You better go and die if you cannot afford to pay for treatment.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Someone is suggesting that Medisave should cover congenital illnesses as well. The wheel of fortune is spinning again.

Someone got to pay and pay.