Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not all hospitals allow Medisave for cancer tests

Salma Khalik, Health Correspondent

2 July 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

WHILE Medisave can now be used to pay for colorectal and breast cancer screenings, not all public
hospitals are on the approved list.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Changi General Hospital are not on the list for colorectal screening.

Alexandra Hospital is not approved for both breast and colorectal screenings.

These hospitals do provide the services but patients cannot use Medisave to pay for them.

The Straits Times understands that they missed the deadline for submitting applications to be included
in the list. They are now doing so and are likely to make it to the list in the coming weeks.

Polyclinics and private centres, such as Raffles Hospital, are also on the approved list. This can be
accessed at the Ministry of Health (MOH) website

Colorectal cancer is the top cancer here, with 1,500 new cases a year. Breast cancer is the top cancer
among women, with 1,400 cases each year.

Medisave can be used only at places that 'meet the quality assurance requirements for the scheme',
said MOH. The quality assurance takes into account 'patient safety, staff competency and clinical quality

A ministry spokesman said the ministry will work with more centres to reach the requirements for
inclusion on the list.

To encourage early diagnosis, which greatly improves the chances of beating the two cancers, the Heal
th Ministry decided to allow people to use Medisave to offset the high cost of screening.

They may draw up to $950 for a colonoscopy, though a higher limit of $1,250 applies if polyps are found.

On top of that, they may claim up to $300 for any additional charges, such as for medicine.

This test, which costs about $1,000, is recommended once every 10 years for adults from age 50.

There are also cheaper stool tests to check for colorectal cancer which can be done at most clinics.

These should be done annually.

Women can tap the $300 a year from Medisave that is set aside for outpatient use to pay for a
mammogram to detect breast cancer. A mammogram costs about $100. Women aged 50 to 69 are
urged to go for one once every two years.

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