Forum: Multilateral Healthcare Insurance Committee to look at patient interests, cost issues, Forum News & Top Stories

We thank Dr Tan Jee Lim for his suggestions (Relook fee guidelines in healthcare insurance, June 1).

Market failure occurs in the healthcare sector because of information asymmetry through lack of knowledge or transparency, and when insurance leads to a buffet syndrome.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) therefore plays an active role in ensuring that appropriate and cost-effective healthcare continues to be accessible and affordable to Singaporeans.

MOH has been publishing fee benchmarks since 2018. This is presented as a range, to allow for varying complexity across cases even for the same procedure.

The fee benchmarks should be reviewed regularly to remain relevant, and the review by the Fee Benchmarks Advisory Committee is ongoing.

As a matter of fundamental medical ethics, a patient’s access to appropriate care should not be compromised.

A combination of wider insurance panels and a functioning pre-authorisation system would enable patients to gain access to more choice and benefits offered by their insurers.

Greater portability of Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) could further enhance choice and competitiveness of insurance offerings, but it requires closer study as insurers may raise their premiums to factor in risks of covering pre-existing conditions.

This is why MediShield Life is designed to cover all Singaporeans for life with no exclusions, to give reassurance to all Singaporeans should they chose to relinquish their private IPs.

MOH has appointed the Multilateral Healthcare Insurance Committee to address these issues holistically. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is an observer in the committee and has given useful input to the process.

The committee will consider the suggestions received in formulating its recommendations.

Real improvements can come about only when doctors, insurers, regulators and patients work together.

Cham Dao Song

Director (Finance Policy)

Healthcare Finance Division

Ministry of Health

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