By Leong Sze Hian
Never answer the question?
It states that “Ms Cheong was under the misapprehension that there had been a change in policies relating to hospitalisation and ward charges for pensioners in recent years.
In fact, the only recent change, in March this year, was to enhance outpatient medical and dental benefits with an increase in claim limits and subsidies.”
The fact of the matter?
In this connection, I have just come across a pensioner whose operation cost was $1,400 plus but was only covered for $800.
I have checked with a healthcare professional in a public hospital, and he confirms what Audrey Cheong said in her letter – “After her discharge, she was taken aback to learn that the subsidy she was entitled to was pegged to the Singapore General Hospital’s (SGH) ward charges.
As NUH’s ward charges are higher than SGH’s, my friend had to foot the difference”.
As to “She was directed to amendments made in March to the policy, which were listed in the Pensioners’ Handbook.
Why were pensioners not notified of these changes, so they can make an informed choice? How many pensioners would have access to the pensioners’ website to learn of these amendments?
There should have been public notification in the media”
Pegged to SGH’s charges?
– Why does the Public Service Division (PSD)’s reply not state categorically that the coverage is pegged to SGH’s charges? Are we not arguably, in a way, evading the issue by not answering Audrey Cheong’s key question?
She was asking about the peg to SGH, and not just what the PSD’s reply seems to be focusing on – that the last policy change was in March?
A cursory check on bill sizes on the Ministry of Health’s web site, seems to indicate that SGH’s charges may generally be lower than the other public hospitals.
Pensioners also must contribute to Medisave?
I also know a pensioner who was told that if he did not make his required Medisave contributions, his self-employed vocational licence would not be renewed.
When he said that he was entitled to free medical benefits as a pensioner, he was told that he could use his Medisave for his wife. When he said his wife is also a pensioner with free medical benefits, he was told that he could use it for his children.
When he said he had no children, he was told that its the policy!
Perhaps now we know why?
If what Audrey Cheong said about the peg to SGH is indeed correct – than perhaps, now we know why pensioners have to contribute to Medisave all these years – because they may have to use their Medisave to pay for the difference in the public hospital’s charges that one goes to, and the SGH’s charges!
Finally, in a sense, the real question remains unanswered – was it free for pensioners in the past regardless of which public hospital they went to?
If this is the case – then when was the policy changed and how were pensioners notified of the change?
Do the right thing?
Looking at the above, there may be a good case for this to be raised in Parliament, so that consideration may be made to refunding the difference that pensioners had paid, because it is not fair and a grave injustice to those who have served our nation to be treated with such apparent scant regard to fairness, natural justice, transparency and accountability?
In this connection, may I quote the Public Service’s 7 core principles:
New Public Service Principles
“The Public Service introduced the principles of CARE (Courtesy, Accessibility, Responsiveness and Effectiveness) in 1995. Following a thorough review in 2010, three new service principles were added in 2011. They are: People-Centricity, Mutual Courtesy and Respect, and Shared Responsibility for the Public Good”