Monday, August 8, 2011

HEFTY HOSPITAL BILLS; Don't ban ward switch entirely

ST Forum
2 August 2011
Straits Times
(c) 2011 Singapore Press Holdings Limited

ONE reason patients are saddled with hefty hospital bills is that they have to choose an A-class ward
instead of the subsidised B-class ward when beds in the latter are unavailable.

Consequently, they are barred from switching to B-class beds, and are saddled with hefty A-class
charges.

I can understand the Government's reason for barring the switch when there is a choice. But in cases
where the hospital is out of B-class beds, such patients should be allowed to switch back when one
becomes available.

Alternatively, such 'A-class' patients should be allowed access to subsidised care for follow-up
treatment.

The hospital's standard reply has always been that the patient could wait till a B-class bed becomes
available, or have an ambulance take him to another hospital with an available bed.

However, when one's loved one is ill and in pain, the hospital's reply represents a Hobson's choice.

Families will opt naturally for the practical and immediate solution, which is to stump out for an A-class
bed to ease the suffering of their loved ones.

We are almost held to ransom by the hospital to pay the higher fees. I would gladly pay for an A-class
bed for my loved one who falls ill when no B-class bed is available. But I urge the Health Ministry to
consider allowing these patients to downgrade when a B-class bed becomes available.

As for myself, I recently upgraded my MediShield to cover private hospital fees. This is expensive but I
will not burden my family with having to make such hard choices.

Ho Suit Keng (Ms)

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