SNEC CFO, Mr Moses Wong replied that medical charges have increased due to operating expenses, inflation, etc. The bottom line is medical cost has increased! When there is saving due to efficiency and technology, patients do not benefit from it. However, there are always reasons for operation cost to increase regularly and patients have to bear the burden.
How does SNEC defines cost-effective and affordable care? Our ex-Minister, Mr Mah BT defines HDB flat costing half a million as 'affordable'. If going by such standard, everything in Singapore is affordable.
Some puzzling questions :-
1) Why does subsidized patients bear the full increase in the recent consultation fee ? Normally the fee hike is less subsidized patients. This time round, subsidized patients see a 10% increase, while non-subsidized patients only a 5% increase. Where is the logic in this ?
2) Why are patients not informed of medical fee hike each time? This gives the impression that SNEC is increasing medical cost on the sly while our government keeps assuring us that healthcare cost is affordable. SNEC could have easily placed a notice at the payment counter to let the public know of any fee increase.
3) Was the fee hike in the Optical Coherent Tomography test last year for a new equipment or was in it in preparation for future purchased ? Is not purchased of new equipment budgeted for annually ? Do funding for new equipment purchase comes from medical fee hike ?
4)How long is the government funding for the salary revision for medical profession? One year or longer? If it is for one year only, will SNEC be looking to recoup the salary increase through medical cost hike in near future?
5) Why is SNEC charging $6 for a simple visual test which most optical shops do it for free ? This test known as pre-consultation evaluation involves reading of alphabets/numbers from a chart. Those evaluation test done by optical shops are even more detail than the one in SNEC. Taking a conservative figure of 1000 patients per day, SNEC revenue from this simple eye test alone will be $120,000 per month! ($6 x 1000 x 20days). This means SNEC is making $1.44 million a year for a simple eye reading test lasting less than 2mins !
Medifund is of no help as its criteria requires a patient and all his/her immediate family to be broke before being eligible. If one is in such dire situation, likely one will fore go healthcare cost to put food on the table first.