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Singapore National Eye Centre promises to cut charges for complex procedures after $4.50 MediShield Life fiasco




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The Singapore National Eye Centre has promised to cut charges for complex procedures, days after an 82-year-old revealed that MediShield Life paid out only $4.50 of his $4477 post-subsidy bill for cataract surgery at SNEC because there the national health insurance scheme imposes a $2,800 cap on such procedures.

Last week, the elderly patient, Mr Seow Ban Yam, said that he received a bill that came up to over $12,000 after he underwent a cataract operation on both eyes at SNEC. After government subsidies, Mr Seow needed to pay $4477 and he paid $3000 of that from his Medisave account.

The elderly Singaporean thought that MediShield Life would cover 90 per cent of the remaining $1477. He was in for a rude shock when MediShield Life only paid out less than a measly $5 as it explained that it imposes a $2,800 cap on the procedure he underwent.

This does not explain why SNEC charged Mr Seow $4,477 post-Government subsidy.

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This means that the maximum reimbursable amount for such a procedure each year is $2800 + plus actual ward fees of $205. This amounts to $3,005. Of this $3,005, $3000 has to be taken from the patient’s own CPF funds. This leaves only $5 that is claimable by insurance. Thus, MediShield Life paid 90 per cent of that $5 – amounting to $4.50.

SNEC’s chief operating officer, Ms Charity Wai, has since explained that Mr Seow was charged such a hefty fee for the “less common but complex” procedure since the surgery required “the expertise of senior and experienced surgeons,” and a “longer operating time” of three hours.

In response to the outrage over the hefty fee Mr Seow was charged, Ms Wai said that SNEC will review and adjust its charges for complex procedures like the one the elderly patient underwent “to better align a wider range of procedures with Medisave and MediShield claim limits”.

The fee revisions, that will be released from 1 March, are expected to yield “reduced charges” for those undergoing complex operations of higher surgical table codes will see “reduced charges”.

Ms Wai further assured: “No patient requiring care, whether for simple or complex conditions, will be denied treatment due to an inability to pay.”

She concluded that patients who need financial support for procedures may consult with SNEC staff who are able to advise them on various government financial assistance schemes for needy patients. SNEC also provides aid for needy patients from philanthropic funds it has raised.

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