Editor's Note: A hard working individual who works in an industry which most Singaporeans shunt, got injured and subsequently plagued with high hospitalisation bill. Class C by the way is the cheapest class hospitalisation available here. The reason given by the restructured hospital (a sugar-coated term for public-sector hospital) is absurb in that work related injury are not covered by government subsidy. There are two serious lapses here: 1) the super high cost of hospital bill even for a lowest class ward and 2) the policy loophole of the $25000 cap to be paid by the employer. To be fair to the employers and employees, the government subsidy should kick in over and above the $25000 to help the poor to handle the high hospitalisation bill if the government is serious in encouraging hard working individuals to contribute to the society.
Jan 29, 2011
Worker served with $147,000 C-class bill
I HAD an accident at work last June. Initially, the interim hospital bill from the National University Hospital indicated a subsidy.
But when the final bill was given to me, I was shocked. The bill for my stay at a C-class ward amounted to an unsubsidised total of $147,000.
I was discharged on Aug 13 last year and the reason for the difference between what was stated in the interim bill and the final one was not explained at all.
Only after I asked was I told that the Ministry of Health had withdrawn the subsidy as the accident was work- related.
About a month after my discharge, I applied for a waiver of the outstanding amount of about $122,000 through my MP. This was after my company had paid $25,000.
As far as I am aware, the hospital did not reply to the appeal.
Three months later, after more deductions from my MediShield ($41,000) and Medisave accounts ($31,000), I was informed that the hospital was in the process of scheduling an instalment payment plan for the remaining $50,000.
Needless to say, my family and I are plagued by anxiety. I am 54 years old and work in the construction sector; my wife works part-time and my daughters are still in their teens.
How can an average Singaporean worker like me support a family, pay off a huge hospital bill and still find more money to pay for subsequent medical requirements arising from the accident and treatment?
If I had been given a subsidy, I would not have been burdened by this unexpectedly trying financial circumstances.
Tan Guan Seng
EDITOR'S NOTE: AND THE REPLY FROM THE HOSPITAL (IT USED TO BE A PUBLIC HOSPITAL, I AM NOT EVEN SURE THE STATUS NOW, SEMI-GOVERNMENT OR FULLY PRIVATISED? I STILL GOT THE IMPRESSION THAT THEY RECEIVE GOVERNMENT GRANT'S TO OPERATE)
Jan 29, 2011
Patient turned down advice on subsidies
MR TAN Guan Seng spent most of his hospitalisation at the high-dependency and intensive-care units during his two-month stay at the National University Hospital.
His hospitalisation charges were originally pegged at the subsidised rate as our admission office staff had overlooked that it was a work-related injury. We apologised to him for this.
When Mr Tan's wife made a request to upgrade him to a private ward, the hospital's staff informed her that the estimated bill would exceed the quantum to be borne by Mr Tan's employer under the Work Injury Compensation Act.
Under the Act, Mr Tan's employer is liable to pay medical expenses for up to one year from the date of the accident, subject to a cap of $25,000.
However, hospitals are given the discretion to downgrade patients admitted for work-related injuries and who have financial difficulties to subsidised status, if they meet the criteria after a financial assessment.
We empathise with Mr Tan's situation. In our bid to assist him, we advised him to undergo a financial assessment to confirm if he could qualify for higher subsidies for his medical expenses. Mr Tan did not take up the offer.
He was also advised to check with his employer if his medical expenses could be covered under the company's insurance policy.
In September, Mr Tan appealed for a waiver of the outstanding amount through his MP. We considered his appeal and explained that as he was appropriately charged for the treatment provided, we could not accede to his request.
As he did not take up our earlier offers for financial assessment, we were unable to explore other forms of assistance.
In consideration of his appeal, we offered Mr Tan an instalment plan to settle the outstanding amount. The offer was rejected by Mr Tan.
Joy Wong (Mrs)
Director, Patient Relations
National University Hospital