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NUH “charging more than $23,000 for cataract operation, follow-up”

quoting more than private clinic for MRI scan, says retiree

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Two people have written letters about the charges at the National University Hospital () and Changi General Hospital ().

The first letter, published on straitstimes.com and titled “Forum: Stuck with high bill for cataract operation and follow-up visits”, was about the writer’s mother being possibly overcharged for a cataract operation and subsequent clinical follow-up.

He wrote: “She was diagnosed with the condition after a visit to Ngee Ann Polytechnic last July and from then on, my aged parents obtained referrals from Queenstown Polyclinic to benefit from subsidised treatment at the National University Hospital (NUH) Eye Centre.”

He added that his father was very upset over what he said was overcharging by NUH. “When I looked into the issue, I was shocked to learn that they had incurred more than $23,000,” wrote Mr Ian Lee Chi Meng.

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Mr Lee said NUH told them his mother had lost her subsidised patient status when she selected a higher-grade lens — which she was advised to, to avoid the need for reading glasses after the operation — and when she elected to choose her own doctor.

He asked: “Having been referred by a polyclinic for her first visit to NUH, how would my mother know which doctor to choose?”

NUH said that financial counselling was adequately conducted, with all consent forms duly signed. He added: “My mother would not have knowingly signed forms to exclude herself as a subsidised patient and be treated as a full-paying private patient instead.”

Similarly, a retiree wrote in to straitstimes.com’s Forum section with a letter titled: “Forum: Cost of hospital MRI higher than private clinic’s.”

Mr Lim Chuan Poh said he made an appointment with the orthopaedic department of Changi General Hospital (CGH) on Dec 16 to have his shoulder looked into.

However, because the earliest appointment for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to ascertain the severity of a suspected rotator cuff tear was in late March, he decided to get an appointment at a private hospital for it.

Along with getting an appointment immediately at the private hospital, he was charged less than $600 for it, including goods and services tax.

But at CGH he was quoted $1,450.

He wrote: “I am puzzled by the difference in charges between CGH and the private imaging clinic I went to. What is the basis for CGH charging so much more for a similar service?

“My concern is whether, besides the MRI, general hospitals are overcharging patients for other services.”

TISG has reached out to CGH and NUH for comment and clarification. /TISG

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