I have just heard something ridiculous. It seems that medical fees have gone up cos of medical subsidies!
A friend went to see a doctor for flu. It normally cost about $20-$30 for consultation and simple medicine. But this time the fees amount to >$50!
After some probing, it seems that medical consultation fees at many clinics have gone up. Doctors are charging more. And it seems that the recent subsidies for PG and CHAS may be the reason why.
From what I understand, PG seniors pay a small fee (about $5) to see a doctor. And they can return for free medicine thereafter. CHAS card holders get a heavy subsidy for medical fees. The clinics provide treatment and claim the fees from the government for the subsidies.
So are the clinics increasing their fees cos the PG and CHAS holders are price insensitive? Regardless of how much the doctors charge them, they won’t mind cos in the end, they pay the same token amount. The government picks up the rest of the tab.
This raises several issues:
1. Will medical inflation go through the roof, the same way private hospitalization insurance premiums have gone up over the years, cos patients are price insensitive? If patients don’t care how much the fees are, what will happen?
2. The government picks up the bill. But in the end, the costs will be passed down to who? Even now, if I go to see the doctor, I will have to pay the increased fees cos I am neither PG nor CHAS. I am in a way, subsidizing these PG/CHAS patients.
3. Is this a loophole that clinics are unethically taking advantage of? When the PIC grant was introduced, companies took advantage and made fraudulent claims. When patients under private hospitalization insurance do not have to pay a cent, some took advantage by getting more treatments than they need at the hospitals, driving up the costs. Now if clinics and doctors increase their fees because there is the PG/CHAS claims they can make, what does it say about medical moral values?
Recently, I heard about a nurse working at a clinic making a complaint about the doctor for making fraudulent PG/CHAS claims to boost his income. The same doctor also used expired medicine for patients. While the case is pending, it gives me a chill to think that such doctors exist. These are the first line medical staff that common people see. If they are greedy, then can we really trust them?
I am soon to be unemployed. I will not have company medical benefits. Seeing a doctor will mean that I will have to foot the entire bill myself. I can only hope that the situation will improve when procedures are refined and tightened. The government has good intentions to help the PG and the poor, but greedy people are…being greedy.
I should also take good care of my own health so that I will not have to see a doctor anytime soon. But when I really have to, and it’s a matter of time, then I hope I will not be shocked by the medical bill.
“If you see the world accurately, it is bound to be humorous, because it is ridiculous.” Charlie Munger