Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Health Minister Khaw paid $8 for his heart bypass ...

Ng Jing Yng

SINGAPORE - Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan paid only $8 from his pocket for his heart bypass in May.

In order to reiterate the importance of adequate coverage, Mr Khaw said in his latest blog post yesterday that his operation, at the National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS), was mostly paid for by MediShield and a private Shield supplement, while Medisave helped in the co-payment of the rest of his hospital bill.

According to figures on the Ministry of Health website, the bill for heart bypass surgery is less than $30,000 for nine in 10 patients staying in an A class ward in NHCS.

Those covered under MediShield - a basic insurance scheme for CPF members - can choose to top up their basic coverage by supplementing it with plans from private insurers, while Medisave allows members to dip into its accounts to pay for hospitalisation expenses.

Recounting a recent meeting with health insurers, Mr Khaw also flagged the possibility of extending MediShield to cover mental illness, congenital illness and neonatal treatment.

Mr Raymond Fernando, whose wife suffers from schizophrenia, told MediaCorp such a move would "greatly help in relieving my financial burden and, hopefully, lead to other insurers taking the cue". It could also reduce the stigma of mental illnes and encourage more patients to come forward, said Mr Fernando.

Another idea floated during Mr Khaw's meeting with the health insurers was to raise the MediShield claim limits on outpatient cancer care, which stand at $300 per weekly treatment cycle and up to $2,800 for radiotherapy treatment.

Mr Khaw added that there was also discussion on raising the monthly payout for ElderShield - a severe disability insurance scheme - to extend the monthly basic payout of $400 and to extend the payout period beyond six years.

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