Singapore National Eye Centre to reduce charges for certain complex procedures from March

Singapore National Eye Centre to reduce charges for certain complex procedures from March

Healthcare plan MediShield Life will now review its claim limits every three years instead of five, the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday (Jan 15). Ariel Lim reports.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) will reduce charges for certain complex procedures "with higher fees" from March this year, following a review requested by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong announced this in Parliament on Tuesday (Jan 15) in response to a question from MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling about MediShield Life claim limits, in light of the recent case of an elderly man who received S$4.50 as payout for an eye operation.

Mr Tong provided details on the case of Mr Seow Ban Yam, who went through a duct drainage procedure on both eyes.

Mr Seow’s bill was about S$12,000 before subsidy. Of this amount, the Government subsidises about S$7,500, leaving a balance of S$4,500, or about S$1,400 above the MediShield Life claim limit, said Mr Tong.

He said said that despite the small payout from MediShield Life, the rest of the fee he owed for the procedure was fully covered by MediSave, meaning he did not need to pay out-of-pocket.

The surgical procedure was performed by a senior consultant, took three hours and is not commonly performed on both eyes at the same time, said Mr Tong.

“This was only done for seven patients out of 42,000 procedures performed by SNEC that year,” he said.

Because the SNEC bill was significantly higher than the claim limit, the payout was comparatively small, after the yearly deductible of S$3,000, he said.

Still, the MOH asked SNEC to review its charges, which led to its decision to scale the fees down for duct drainage and other complex procedures.

Mr Tong also said that MOH regularly reviews MediShield Life claim limits and benefits.

For example, the agency recently extended coverage to Home Parenteral Nutrition and direct admissions from emergency departments of public hospitals to community hospitals, he said.

Mr Tong also noted that MOH started a review of claim limits last year, with a view to making the appropriate adjustments as may be necessary.

“This ongoing review requires a careful assessment of the appropriate claim limits and also the consequential impact it may have on premiums, to ensure that the coverage of MediShield Life remains broad-based and sustainable,” he said.

MOH expects the latest review to be completed by end-2020.

“Moving forward, MOH will conduct these reviews of claim limits more regularly, around every three years,” he said.

Source: CNA/ja(aj)

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