A member of the public, Mr Chow Keng Kwok, wrote to ST Forum last month (26 Feb) complaining about Changi General Hospital (CGH) on 2 issues.
Mr Chow’s maid was recently admitted to CGH for surgery. At admission, he was quoted an estimated charge of $15,000 to $18,000 for a five-day stay in a Class C ward. In the end, the final bill was $2,930.70 for two days of hospitalisation.
Mr Chow could not understand why the estimated cost was so far from the final cost. He asked, “What is the point of giving an estimated cost that is up to six times higher than the actual cost?”
“A patient unable to afford the estimated cost may be discouraged from seeking treatment,” he added.
Also, among the charges, he noted that CGH had charged him $100 for a medical report completed by a doctor in a template required by NTUC Income.
“Given that there is already an inpatient discharge form which clearly states the medical condition and procedures administered to the patient, why do insurance companies still require a separate medical report to be completed by a doctor?” he asked.
“How can the hospital charge $100 for what seems like the relatively simple task of completing a medical report? To put things in perspective, a specialist consultation can cost less than $100.”
He wanted the government to control the amounts charged by public hospitals for completing such reports.
$100 cover “administrative costs” and “professional services” rendered
Today (11 Mar), the CFO of CGH, Lim Lee Nor, replied.
He said that the estimated bill was based on the range of historical bill sizes for patients requiring surgery with the same residency status.
“As the surgery was less complex and required a much shorter stay, the final bill was lower than initially expected,” Mr Lim said.
“Mr Chow expressed concerns that a patient who is unable to afford the estimated cost may be discouraged from pursuing treatment. We assure Mr Chow that there are various healthcare financing schemes and subsidies available for Singaporeans,” he added.
With regard to the charges for medical reports, Mr Lim said these cover the “administrative costs” and “professional services of the doctor” to review the patient’s medical records and customise the report based on the purpose of the request.
“Patients who require only basic information, such as admission date and reason for admission, can request a copy of the discharge summary at no cost. We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” he replied.