Wednesday, October 27, 2010

That $8 Bill For Surgical Bypass In Singapore

Whatever his noble intentions, be it attracting more foreigners, making a sales pitch for MediShield, promoting the medical tourist business, or plain electioneering plug for the wonderful job the MIW is doing for the country, you can't escape the fact that Khaw's claim amounts to false advertising.

The used-to-be credible Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan ("if everyone were to be like Mrs Lee, this planet would be heaven") proudly declared: "My out-of-pocket expense for the hospital bill was $8 only". Khaw was referring to his bypass surgery, and no, he did not disclose the itemised bill. He did say his hospital expenses were largely covered by MediShield and a private Shield supplement. What he did not reveal was the accumulated sum of the insurance premiums he had been shelling out for a rainy day. Or that, as a civil servant, he is entitled to more medical freebies than the average Singaporean slaving in the private sector. Khaw takes delight to boast in his blog that after the 2008 MediShield reform, the MediShield payout was raised from 56% of large hospital bills to 66%, a 10%-point increase. What he did not mention were the various increases in medical charges and cost of medication since that year. It's the same old pay and pay system, jack up the tariffs, then offer the paltry rebates.

Insurance is a convoluted business. How many realise that many policies do not cover tumours that are benign, non-malignant or pre-malignant and non life-threatening? The 21 definitions of the main critical illnesses set out by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) include this: "A non-malignant tumor/cyst in the brain, cranial nerves or meninges within the skull, resulting in permanent neurological deficit that has persisting symptoms" - meaning, tumors in the pituitary gland and angiomas are not covered. It's a truism about insurance that says you win only when you really lose. And when you're gone, the money goes to somebody else. Will you be really rejoicing that you have stage 4 cancer and your premiums have been up to date?


  1. Haha..
    Never judge a man by his smiling face!

  2. Its only in Spore that a highly paid minister can make a comment (gloat?) about his perks and benefits without batting an eyelid.

  3. Khaw should really realise that if he were not a Minister, his private insurer would have either denied his claims (by finding fault with nitty gritty details) or dragged its foot on the processing of the insurance claims. This is what ordinary Singaporeans have to face. Khaw is really in a world of his own, and has lost touch with the harsh reality faced by many Singaporeans.

  4. The min. consultancy fee for a visit to the neighbourhood Polyclinic alone is already $9.50 while an emergency visit to one of our re-structured hospitals sets one back by S$95.

    And our Health Minister is now telling the whole world that a by-pass heart surgery in Singapore cost him only S$8, almost next to nothing.

    Actually it's surprising that he still had to pay considering that he is the Health Minister while some other Minister's wife was entitled to a publicly listed SIA hospital service all to herself !

    Remember some PAP Minister once argued it's better that they pay a higher lump sum salary than rather having to pay all sorts of claims like what those MPs in UK submit. But they conveniently forgot to mention that the devil is in the actual details so long as no one dares to utter a single word.

  5. KHAW please dont talk rubbish give us the exact breakdown He is enjoying high subsidy because of minister status THE POOR singaporeans salary is very less nd the middle income are struggling end of each month because of stupid cost

  6. "The 21 definitions of the main critical illnesses set out by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) include this: "A non-malignant tumor/cyst in the brain, cranial nerves or meninges within the skull, resulting in permanent neurological deficit that has persisting symptoms" - meaning, tumors in the pituitary gland and Angimas are not covered."

    Were you trying to say.. that even if a you have a benign tumor that results in neurological deficit you will still be covered? By that definition when a pituitary tumor causes a neurological deficit or any persistent symptoms (bitemporal hemianopia or hormonal inbalances)the insurance will reimburse your operation?

    And I think there is no such pathology as an "angima". Were you referring to an "angioma"?

  7. Yes most terminal illness policies do not cover early-stage cancers.

    But do note, just for information, that there are policies coming up which do cover early-stage cancers.

    These are pricey (minimum about $1400 in premiums a year), but they do give a payout (say 25% of the insured amount) in the event of early-stage illness (and not just cancer but other illnesses)

    They are called Early Payout Illness plans. Available from AIA, AXA and GE. Sum assured is set at $100k.

  8. How did we get to this stage in the life of our nation where a minister openly declares the benefits he enjoys, knowing full well that the lower 30% of the population dont have access to these benefits.

    Its in bad taste.

    But then who am I to complain. Its obvious that the majority of Sporeans dont really care about these matters.

  9. Just like any commerical companies, insurance companies exist to make money for its shareholders and not for any charitable or social causes. So it make no surprises that any claim will be scrutinized. From my sources in the insurance industry, many claims can be rejected base on even the slightess issue.

  10. Thanks, Anon@9:08 PM
    Oops, typo! Angioma it is - benign tumors derived from cells of the vascular or lymphatic vessel walls. Should have seen a doctor first, but couldn't find one charging $8 for consultancy.

  11. I believe Ministers have full medical coverage. I know they reatined the best for themselves. While the government abolished the pension service across the civil service by claiming that is was not effective or too expensive, ther quietly kept it for themselves. I believe there are many MPs and Ministers who are collecting both pension and salary once they reach 55 or 60. If there were as white as white as they claim, then Mr Khaw should reveal is medical scheme as well as the pension and slalary scale of the governement. Well I guess white is to hide the rot and soot

  12. I would like to bring my father to the hospital and request for the same $8.00 treatment Mr Khaw got.

  13. Talk about stretching the truth. Read this excellent analysis:

    The claim should look like this:
    Total bill : $25, 000
    Less deductibles: $3000
    Balance: $22, 000
    Less Co-insurance: 10% of $22, 000 = $2200
    Balance that Medisave-approved Shield plan will reimburse (less exclusions or pre existing, if any) = $19, 800

    The total amount of both deductibles and co-insurance is $5200.

    Medisave-approved Shield plan reimburse $19, 800. Medisave was used to pay his co-insurance or co-payment that is $2200. How did he pay for deductibles of $3000? How did he only pay $8?

  14. I would like to share with you your entitlement as Singapore Citizen/Permanent resident without using cash.

    1) Are you aware that you can use your Medisave account to purchase a Healthshield Plan with high coverage of S$600,000 per policy year and no lifetime coverage limit?

    2) For the above comprehensive coverage, are you aware that the amount you need to invest is much lesser than the 4% interest earned on the Medisave account?

    I am a Financial Service Consultant representing AIA. With the increasing medical costs, having a comprehensive medical coverage is very important. Do drop me a note if you have any queries.


    Deryk Lee (mobile is 96813366)