Then the govt announced that GST hike of 2%. Oops there goes the pay hike. Then the price of necessities, taxi fare, bus fare rose quickly. Your pay hike turns into a pay cut eaten away by inflation. You start to feel sick of the whole situation. But you better NOT get sick because public hospitals and polyclinics have just announced fee hikes.
Singaporeans we are on the march to top 1st world status. So you better work harder, longer and retire later so you can afford that status. At age 70, when you're cleaning those tables, remember that you're cleaning them in a top 1st world country, which means your status as a cleaner is higher than cleaners of lesser countries. All this is brought to you by your extraordinary leaders who works for your interest and the harder they work for your interest, the harder you have to work for your own interest.
May 29, 2007
New fee hikes at public hospitals and polyclinics
Consultation fees are up at most of them, as demand and costs rise
By Salma Khalik
A NEW round of fee hikes is underway at most public hospitals and some polyclinics. This time, it is consultation fees that are going up, as demand and operating costs continue to rise, say health-care providers.
Subsidised patients at four public hospitals will now pay $24 or $25 for every visit to a specialist clinic, up from about $21. Attendances at specialist clinics have gone up from 2.8 million in 2003 to 3.5 million in 2005.
Only Changi General Hospital and Alexandra Hospital are keeping their charges unchanged at $20.
Polyclinic patients are not spared either. All 18 polyclinics used to charge a standard consultation fee of $8 for adults. They now charge anything from $8 to $8.80.
Similarly, for the elderly and young children, the fee is now between $4 and $4.50, up from $4.
Three polyclinics - Bedok, Bukit Batok and Toa Payoh - started charging more this month. Eight had raised their rates starting more than a year ago. The remaining seven may do so soon.
The increases come just months after a similar round of fee hikes for private patients in March. At that time, the inpatient ward charges for subsidised patients also went up.
One bit of good news - hospitals will continue to absorb the Goods and Services Tax for subsidised patients, so there will no increase when the tax goes up to 7 per cent in July.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said the public hospitals are 'mindful of the impact of any fee revision to patients'.
But she added: 'Inflation, wage increases, drug pricing and others may bring about an increase in the overall cost of providing the services.'
Although the Government gives hospitals and polyclinics a subsidy of $1.7 billion a year, each hospital is left to decide what it wants to charge 'within broad parameters'.
Madam Halimah Yacob, head of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said that although the fees are still affordable despite the increase, people should be told why they have to pay more, 'particularly since some hospitals have opted not to increase their fees'.
They should also alert patients if such increases are 'intended to be a regular feature so that they could better plan their finances.'
Turning to polyclinics, she said the different charges are 'confusing'. If patients start shopping for cheaper rates, it 'may not be good in terms of ensuring continuity and consistency of treatment'.
Most private general practitioners charge between $10 and $16. However, medicines - at $1.40 for a week's supply of each type - are still cheaper at polyclinics. GPs can charge from a few cents to a few dollars for each pill, depending on the medication.
SingHealth Polyclinics said the higher fees are 'due to increased operating costs such as manpower and supplies'.
The National Healthcare Group Polyclinics said it is seeing more patients each year. Polyclinic attendance went up from 3.3 million in 2003 to 3.9 million in 2005.
Patients like Mr Azman Abdullah, 66, a retiree with heart problems, are concerned about bills adding up with repeat visits.
He recounted how a doctor he saw at Jurong Polyclinic gave him three days' worth of medicine and told him to return if he still felt ill.
He said: 'I wasn't well, but I didn't go back as I would have to pay another $4.50.'
He needed an angiogram and was told it would cost $130. But when he got to the Heart Centre, he found out that the test now costs $140.
He eventually had to appeal to a medical social worker for financial aid.