Healthcare or nightmare – One Singaporean’s S$1 million medical bill

9536
Photo: Facebook / Fina Leong

One netizen, Fina Leong, shared her mother’s story about the long and arduous process through the public healthcare system that ended with a life lost and a medical bill of $1,018,469.29 from a private hospital.

Her post, which was first shared last year, has been making its rounds again with the recent talks of healthcare and insurance schemes such as ElderShield and CareShield Life.

She took to Facebook to share the experience she went through with her mother, and said “10 doctors, 58 days in the ICU, 1 gigantic bill, Mum’s life lost. Never in my life would I have ever imagined I’d see a S$1 million medical bill.”

Her post received 14,000 reactions, 22,885 shares and 3100 comments from concerned Singaporeans.

Ms Leong wrote about the exorbitant bill that came with her mother’s treatments, and the “$350,000 in medications and over a thousand doses of drugs”.

She also brought up the difference between the public healthcare system and the private healthcare system. She wrote, “We also made the mistake of thinking “all hospitals are the same.” We experienced a huge difference in SPEED and EXPERTISE between public healthcare and private specialists.”

She added that a detailed scan was needed to check for her mother’s tumour immediately, but through the public healthcare system, this process took two weeks.

“I still believe our public healthcare is one of the best in the world, however there are simply too many patients needing the attention of overworked doctors”, Ms Leong continued, attributing the delay to an overcrowding of public healthcare facilities.

Ms Leong then wrote about the monetisation of the healthcare system and said that “specialists and private facilities are gravely expensive, and it seems that billing is structured in a way to max-out insurance payout in a cold and professionally institutionalised way. My heart felt cold when I saw that on mum’s $1 million bill, she was referred to as “Customer” and not “Patient””.

Due to a lack of information about her mother’s insurance Fina said “we could’ve sought private specialist expertise from Day 1. We only went to private later on. Even though these final 58 days in a private hospital led to this insane bill, we appreciated the speed of response and level of professional expertise of the team of specialists.”

In her post, Fina seemed to express that she was stuck between two rather difficult situations – a public healthcare system that was slow and overcrowded and a private healthcare system with a huge bill.

Netizens were very sympathetic towards Fina’s situation and many empathised with the level of red tape present in hospitals and the layers of approval needed before doctors make a decision.

The relevance her story has today, is that it brings up the issue if anything has changed with regards to the quality and cost of healthcare today. Is the public healthcare sector still overcrowded, with long waiting times? Is the private healthcare sector still dishing out outrageous medical bills? Will the possibly new insurance scheme CareShield Life make a difference in balancing out the private and public healthcare sectors?

Would switching to private healthcare earlier have given Fina’s mother a different outcome?

________________________________________________________________________

obbana@theindependent.sg