By Stanislaus Marie Ee
On 26 Nov 2013, my wife had a flu jab at Singapore General Hospital (SGH). It cost her $6.50. The next day, I had a flu jab at Sengkang Polyclinic. It cost me $25.
I wrote a letter “Same Jabs Different Costs” to The Straits Times Forum asking the Ministry of Health for clarification on the huge difference in cost for a flu jab at SGH and Sengkang Polyclinic. I also asked for clarification on the cost for a pneumococcal vaccination.
My letter was published in the Forum page of the Straits Times on 19 December 2013.
SGH and Sengkang Polyclinic, in a joint reply (STFORUM 25 Dec 2013) explained that the $6.50 flu jab at SGH did not include the cost of administering the injection whereas, the $25 flu jab at Sengkang Polyclinic was the total charge for a flu vaccination. (source)
This reply did not explain the huge difference in cost. So on 28 Dec I wrote to STFORUM this time asking SGH the fee for administering the $6.50 flu vaccine. I also asked Sengkang Polyclinic for the cost of the flu vaccine.
Unfortunately, STFORUM decided not to publish this letter. So on 8 Jan 2014, I wrote to STFORUM to find out why they chose not to publish the letter. They replied the next day informing me that they had forwarded my E-Mail to SGH/Sengkang Polyclinic for their action.
To date I have not heard from SGH/Sengkang Polyclinic. I would appreciate Ministry of Health’s answers to the questions raised.
Following is my letter to STFORUM on 28 Dec 2013 which was not published.
E-Mail to STFORUM (8 Jan 2014)
The following letter is in response to SGH and Sengkang Polyclinic’s reply to my letter, “Same jabs, different costs”
Thank you for the reply last Wed “Selling price of drugs depends on various factors”
It is reassuring to note that “the selling price for the same item may vary “slightly” between institutions”. However the facts do not bear this out. There is still no plausible explanation for the huge difference in the cost of a flu vaccination at SGH and Sengkang Polyclinic.
As stated in my previous letter, my wife paid $6.50 for a flu vaccination at SGH. There was no charge for administering the injection. If there is in fact a standard charge for administering the injection, can SGH indicate the cost?
I paid $25 for my flu jab at Sengkang Polyclinic. From this sum, how much is the cost of the vaccine? Can Sengkang Polyclinic provide the cost.
The breakdown of charges for the flu vaccination at SGH and Sengkang Polyclinic will reveal the difference in pricing at these two institutions.
As for the pneumococcal vaccination, can SGH and Sengkang Polyclinic list what they charge for vaccinations that offer immunity for three, four and five years. Can SGH also confirm that they do not have vaccines that provide immunity for ten years.