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MOH publishes fee benchmarks for anaesthetists and inpatient attendance doctors in the private sector

MOH publishes fee benchmarks for anaesthetists and inpatient attendance doctors in the private sector

File photo of a doctor performing surgery. (Photo: AFP/Dominique Faget)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Dec 29) said it has published fee benchmarks for anaesthetist fees and inpatient attendance doctor fees for the private sector. 

These include recommended fee ranges for anaesthetists for about 190 procedures, as well as inpatient attendance doctors for consultations and reviews of patients in different ward settings. 

This is the second tranche of fee benchmarks, following the fee benchmarks published in 2018 for surgical procedures

"The fee benchmarks will give patients and payers (e.g. insurers) more complete information on the reasonable range of doctors’ fees for surgeries and hospital stays and enable better informed decisions," said MOH. 

The benchmarks will also serve as a guide for private sector healthcare providers in charging appropriately. 

MOH said the fee benchmarks were recommended by the Fee Benchmarks Advisory Committee and were accepted in full by the ministry last Wednesday. 

Anaesthetists' fee benchmarks were recommended as anaesthesia support is an integral component of surgery. Doctors' inpatient attendance fee benchmarks were also recommended to provide a reference for consultation fees during an inpatient stay, said MOH. 

The committee reviewed data such as historical transacted fees and inflation rates while developing the new fee benchmarks, said MOH. 

It also consulted with numerous stakeholders over 10 sessions held in November and December this year.

These included about 200 specialists from the College of Anaesthesiologists, Singapore, representatives from the professional bodies, public and private sector medical professionals, as well as insurers. 

"These help to ensure that the benchmarks reflect a fair range of professional fees that are representative of the risks and effort undertaken by doctors, while balancing other stakeholders’ interests and perspectives," said MOH. 

"FAIR AND REASONABLE" FEES

MOH said the fee ranges set by the committee took into account the anaesthesia risks associated with the surgery and any added complexity arising from the patient’s condition, independent of the complexity of the surgery. 

It also sought to ensure that fees charged are "fair and reasonable", and in proportion to the anaesthetist’s risks and efforts.

For example, the new anaesthetist fee benchmark for a single knee replacement surgery ranges from S$1,670 to S$2,400. Based on actual transacted fees including GST between Jul 1, 2018 and Jun 30, 2019, anaesthetist fees were between S$2,140 and S$2,675.

The inpatient attendance fee benchmarks cover the professional consultation fees for doctors in the general ward, high dependency ward and intensive care unit (ICU) cases. 

For the ICU, the fee benchmarks cover those who require lower intensity ICU care. For example, the fee benchmarks for lower intensity ICU cases in the ICU ward range from S$300 to S$600 per day, based on the doctor's office hours. 

(Table: Ministry of Health)

Fee variations are wider for patients who require high intensity ICU care and were excluded from the benchmarks. 

"The development of fee benchmarks for private healthcare providers is part of a larger strategy to ensure that healthcare costs remain affordable and our healthcare system sustainable," said MOH. 

Chairman of the Fee Benchmarks Advisory Committee, Dr Lim Yean Teng, said analysis following the first set of fee benchmarks published showed that majority of the doctors do charge within the fee ranges recommended for surgical procedures. 

This has resulted in moderation in the growth of healthcare cost. 

"For the fee benchmarks to be effective, the (committee) encourages all stakeholders to use them reasonably as a reference for fair charging and payment," said Dr Lim.

Editor's note:  An earlier version of this story detailed older fee benchmarks for a single knee replacement surgery of S$2,140 to S$2,675. In fact, these were actual fees, not benchmarks. We apologise for the error.

Source: CNA/lk(hs)

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