How much can a one month stay + treatment +intensive care in a public hospital cost?
$41,000. Note that this is probably subsidised class "C" charges since the father of the patient works as a driver. The full charges is $41,000 x 4 = $164,000. If means testing is in force, which will most probably disqualify families who stay in condos (or five room flats?) earning professional or double incomes from class "C"...bills in the region of $100K will be commonplace. Now I see why PM Lee says means testing is to help the poor....because it cannot possibly help the middle class.
If you have children, the message is very clear.... you are strongly advised to buy insurance and you have to be prepared to pay more premiums as the cost of healthcare goes up. There is little doubt that the govt is moving towards an American style system based on insurance in which there is little motivation for the govt to rein in the cost as everything has to be covered by insurance and govt subsidies withdrawn/reduced. The Americans have a system that generates the highest profits for healthcare companies in the world - see Michael Moore's move SICKO. Our leaders aspires Singapore to be a highly profitable medical hub for the rich in the region why should precious resources be allocated to people who cannot afford to pay when others are willing to pay for it - it amounts to an opportunity cost & misallocation that Singapore Inc cannot afford. The PAP govt is going to right this wrong for Singapore Inc and as good corporate citizens we have to be prepared to fork out more in insurance premiums. Thank goodness our beloved Straits Times is doing an excellent job to remind us to get insurance packages....some of which are sold by our GLCs.
Nov 4, 2007
40 years of his Medisave wiped out in 3 months
Mr Mohammad did not buy insurance for his children and was forced to break the bank when his daughter came down with ovarian cancer
By Nur Dianah Suhaimi
MR MOHAMMAD hopes to get financial aid from SGH to pay his daughter's hospital bill. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
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DRIVER Mohammad Abdullah had saved over $30,000 in his Medisave account over 40 years - and saw it go in just three months after his daughter got ovarian cancer.
The youngest of his four kids, Siti Aishah, 17, was diagnosed last August and has been in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) ever since.
Siti Aishah, like the rest of her siblings, has no health insurance and doctors have no idea how long she will have to stay in hospital. Her surgery, chemotherapy and dialysis sessions, blood transfusions, treatments in the intensive care unit and morphine jabs chalked up a $41,000 hospital bill in just the first month.
Government subsidies and her father's Medisave paid most of that bill but chemotherapy, dialysis and morphine are not subsidised and must be paid for in cash. This took about $4,000.
Siti Aishah's final bill is still to come and her father is in a fix. His Medisave is gone, his savings are depleted, his wife - a Malaysian and a housewife - has no CPF or Medisave. His three older children have their own families and financial responsibilities.
He thought they didn't need it
'I don't know how I'm going to pay. This is my fault. It never occurred to me to buy my children health insurance. I didn't think they'd fall seriously ill.' MR MOHAMMAD ABDULLAH, whose daughter Siti Aishah was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.They waited too long
Some basic policies
Mr Mohammad, 58, earns $2,500 a month. 'I don't know how I'm going to pay,' he said. 'This is my fault. It never occurred to me to buy my children health insurance. I didn't think they'd fall seriously ill.' Last week, it was announced that newborns and young children will be automatically insured by MediShield.
Medical social workers applaud this new initiative.
The KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), which cares for most sick children here, sees about 30 families seeking financial help each day, with at least 90 per cent of them admitting that they did not buy insurance for their kids.
KKH's chief medical social worker Sylvia Mun said: 'We see an entire spectrum of people, from the low- to middle-income.'
For low-income families, a three-day ward stay for something as minor as asthma can be a financial disaster.
But middle-income families find themselves in a rut when their children are hit by serious, chronic illnesses, said Mrs Mun, who covered her three children under MediShield as soon as they were born.
Each week, her team will see at least one family saddled with massive hospital bills, ranging in the hundreds of thousands.
'If the family can't qualify for Medifund or other subsidies, we accept instalment payments,' said Mrs Mun.
Families can be paying the hospital bills even long after their child has died.
Siti Aishah's illness shocked her family. Apart from the occasional cough or cold, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student was never seriously ill.
Then, three months ago, she started having bad headaches for days. Then came unbearable stomachaches. Her stomach became so bloated that she looked seven months pregnant.
For four days, she could barely eat or drink, vomiting often. She was taken to SGH, where she was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Doctors immediately removed one of her ovaries and a cancerous tumour in her womb but other complications set in. Her kidneys stopped functioning and there were blood clots in her lungs, causing breathing difficulties.
After being treated twice in the intensive care unit, her condition improved. She has had 20 sessions of chemotherapy and is slowly regaining strength.
Siti Aishah, who is 145cm tall, weighs only 30kg now and has lost almost all of her once-thick locks. She said: 'I know that the past few months have been difficult for my parents. I just want to get well and go home quickly.''
Mr Mohammad hopes to get financial help from SGH. 'If I can't get aid, I might just have to pay by instalments.'
His predicament is all too familiar to another family whose sick child also racked up massive medical bills.
The parents, both teachers, had not insured their two children. The mother, 41, said: 'We were planning to get insurance for the children but always procrastinated.'
Her seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia when she was four. The treatment, which included chemotherapy, blood transfusions and steroid shots, lasted eight months, much of it in hospital.
The mother said: 'She was admitted to hospital more than 40 times in the first year. My husband and I were living out of our suitcases.'
The medical bills came up to $60,000, a quarter of which the parents paid for in cash. The rest came from their Medisave accounts.
Because the cancer was detected early, the prognosis was good. The girl recovered quickly and is in remission - and Primary 1.
But the family is taking no chances. The mother said: 'After our daughter's illness, we wasted no time buying health insurance for both our children.'
Some comments by readers on the insurance policies we have been sold:
The impression that an "as charged" plan, together with a deductible & co-insurance rider, will pay off "an entire bill" is an absolute false sense of security.No two plans combined will absolutely cover a hospital bill 100%!Stay alert! Analyse the plan's features and benefits closely.Be prepared to pay the required premium for the highest level of protection.Each "shield" plan has an annual limit of claim.Certain "as charged" plan has pro-ration factors.Pro-ration factor will limit the allowable claim amount.This pro-ration factor usually is included for stays in private hospitals, or stay in a higher class ward.Example, a patient stayed in a A1 ward, in a private hospital. The total bill incurred was $10,000.Within the selected "as charged" plan, there is a pro-ration factor of 65% for private hospital, a deductible amount of $3,000, and a co-insurance component of 10%.The amount of bill to be covered by the "as charged" plan is only $3,150.The rider will cover the deductible $3,000 + co-insurance $350. That's $3,350.There is an outstanding amount of $3,500 to be paid by the patient.Depending on the no. of days stay, this amount might be paid through Medisave (at the point of final billing).
Posted by: paufurhs at Sun Nov 04 10:59:52 SGT 2007
You don't need to. The few private insurer like NTUC income, Aviva provide shield plans that cover your hospital bills on the "as charged" basis, meaning the whole claimable bills will be paid by insurers except the $3K deductible and 10% co-insurance of the balance. Best part is the premium can be paid using your CPF Medisave. On top you can buy a rider using cash to cover both the deductible and co-insurance portion. This can make the shield plan comparable to a private H & S plan costing thousand of dollars which is comprehensive and pay the first dollar. You dun incur a single cent when kena hospital stay and treatment.
Posted by: lee_kum_wah at Sun Nov 04 08:26:44 SGT 2007
As far as I know, there is a cap to how much the insurancewill pay for a single illness of an insured person. Can one take double insurance so that each insurance company can help pay $20000 of the $60000 bill?
Posted by: zxcv0088 at Sun Nov 04 06:12:10 SGT 2007