Last month, a man called Lim Chuan Poh penned his unhappiness in a letter upon finding out that the fee for a magnetic resonance imagining (MRI) scan at Changi General Hospital (CGH) was so much higher compared to a private imaging clinic.
The letter, which was published in Straits Times (ST) forum, stated that the hospital quoted him S$1,450 for the scan and the earliest appointment he could get for it was only in late March.
Given the constant discomfort that his shoulder pain was causing him, Mr Lim opted to perform the MRI scan at a private clinic. He said that he was given an almost immediate appointment and was “puzzled” to find out that the cost of the scan was less than S$600, including goods and services tax.
“I am puzzled by the difference in charges between CGH and the private imagining clinic I went to. What is the basis for CGH charging so much more for a similar service?” he asked.
He continued, “My concern is whether, besides the MRI, general hospitals are over-charging patients for other services. I hope the hospital and the Ministry will look into reviewing healthcare charges”.
Following his letter, the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of CGH Lim Lee Nor responded by saying that the hospital had “inadvertently” quoted the man the “upper limit of the estimated price range of the procedure”.
In the ST’s forum, he explained that the price for a scan depends on various factors like “the complexity of the patient’s condition, clinical protocols, type of machine used, the scan resolution and duration as well as the use of intravenous dye to enhance the image quality”.
The CFO added that the charges at CGH are comparable with those of those public and private hospitals in Singapore.
“Given that, our practice is to quote a price range to the patient. However, in this instance, we inadvertently stated only the upper limit of the estimated price range of the procedure in our communication to Mr Lim,” he noted.
He added, “We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience or anxiety caused to him.”