An audio recording of a 47-year-old male patient complaining to a staff from Changi General Hospital (CGH) business operation in Chinese has been circulated on social media.
In the audio recording that lasted close to half an hour, the patient asked the staff for the reason why the hospital as a government institute engaged debt collectors to call to his house just to collect $37 of unpaid bills.
The patient, said that he received a call from the debt collector at 9 am, saying that the tone of the call, while not intimidating, but was very degrading and humiliated him.
He then complained that because of the debt collectors, he did not dare to go to work because he is afraid that the debt collectors will harass his wife and his mother who are at home.
He was originally told by the counter staff that he could have the bill deducted through CPF but later told that he could not.
As he didn't want to wait for the paper work to be completed, he just went off at the time.
The man, who was at the hospital for heart surgery, admits that he ignored three warning letter sent by CGH to settle the bill as he thought that he could just pay it off during his next visit to the hospital next month.
The man then told the staff that even loan sharks also do not behave in such a manner, adding, "I didn't know that the Singapore government will treat me in this manner for $37."
In response to TODAY's queries, CGH said that it was aware of the recorded conversation.
The hospital stated that reminder letters to patients will be sent if payment is not made one month from the day the bill is incurred and recovery agencies will be told to follow up on the matter if there is no response after six months.
CGH then told Today that the appointment of the agencies are made after a rigorous assessment and they are obliged to work within strict protocols.
According to the hospital, the patient’s bill has been outstanding since late 2016. he had told a staff member at a clinic counter in the hospital that he would be making the payment at his next appointment in April this year.
However, a spokesperson for the hospital said that its staff member did not convey this information to the back-end billing office. There was also a lapse in processing the patient’s payment using (the Central Provident Fund’s) Medisave, which we are working with the patient to rectify,” a spokesperson from CGH said.
"There was also a lapse in processing the patient’s payment using (the Central Provident Fund’s) Medisave, which we are working with the patient to rectify,” the spokesperson added.
Therefore, the hospital offers its apology to the patient, saying, "We apologise for these lapses in service and any inconvenience caused to the patient and his family."
CGH said that it is in contact with the patient.
When asked whether the allegation by the patient was true that the agent's tone was intimidating, the spokesperson said that it had reviewed the recording and stated that "at no time was the (recovery) agent’s tone intimidating or harsh".
The spokesperson stressed that the agent had followed the correct protocols and was professional in speaking with the patient.