SINGAPORE: In a letter published in The Straits Times’ Forum on Thursday (Apr 18), a man questioned the practice of charging retroactively at Singapore General Hospital (SGH) when a patient is moved to a higher class ward, a practice he clearly deems unfair.

Mr David Kong, the letter-writer, said that his mother, age 98 and who is in a frail condition, had been admitted at SGH’s high-dependency ward as a Class C patient last week.

The environment at the ward “was far from conducive to her recovery,” wrote Mr Kong, adding,“The ward, accommodating five patients, was consistently noisy, with frequent disturbances from phone usage, visitor traffic, and monitor alarms.

“As a result, my mother found it difficult to rest and became increasingly stressed.”

After a week, his mother could be moved to a general ward. At SGH, there are three types: Class A for single patients, Class B, where there are six beds, and Class C, which is for eight patients.

“My family believed that a quieter environment would greatly benefit her well-being and recovery, and so opted for A1,” he wrote.

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To their surprise, they were told that if his mum took an A1 room, her bill from when she was a Class C patient would be changed to show her as a Class A1 patient, which means the bill would be twice the amount.

“While we understand the need for different charges for different classes of patients, based on amenities and services provided, we find retroactive charging illogical and unfair,” wrote Mr Kong, who added that patients should be charged based on the room rate of the ward where they actually stayed, and not be made to pay for “Class A1 rates for services and amenities she did not consume.”

This should especially apply to patients who need a quieter ward so they can rest and recover faster.

He also wrote that retro-charging the bill to reflect the more expensive rates “places an unnecessary financial burden on families already grappling with the emotional and physical challenges of caring for their loved ones.”

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Mr Kong expressed the hope that this policy would be reviewed by SGH and the Ministry of Health, as this would, “alleviate financial strain on families and ensure that patients can access the appropriate level of care without undue financial penalty.”

The Independent Singapore has reached out to SGH and MOH for further update or comments. /TISG

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