HONEY..., I shrunk the Hospital Bill

since this is a hiiiighly sarcastic barb-filled blog..., let's dig up some OLD NEWS (by way of ST's definition - older than 3 days) to talk about...

hey listen - if anything goes wrong..., just too bad - u should have been smarter.

Lasik price cuts raise disturbing question (emphasis mine, comments in '[ ]' brackets mine as well)

Oct 25, 2004
Lasik price cuts raise disturbing question

By Salma Khalik

WHEN patients see a price cut in treatments, the instinctive reaction is to cheer. But when prices drop by 40 per cent - or almost $1,000 - within 10 months, then something is probably amiss. [either that - or u'd better rub ur lasik-corrected eyes again].

Hence, the bewilderment that has greeted the new prices at two institutions for lasik operations, which correct short-sightedness.

The substantial cut in such a short period raises questions about why was the price so high in the first place. [i hate to see this kind of grammatical error repeated in an institution like the Straits Times lah, but... along with the constant fake accent that we are so often barraged with... i immediately can see why is our English no good for so long. (Sorry - but the writer in me just hates being fed bad English lah. Nothing personal against the writer).]

Was the Singapore National Eye Centre - the most expensive last year but now the cheapest - cavalier in its pricing? Worse, was it trying to rip people off? Or was it just plain inefficient?

Practical Singaporeans [and Singaporeans who are just too apathetic - or too afraid - to think of the larger social issues for themselves] shrug off any need to revisit the past and prefer to jump on the Lasik bandwagon instead.

But Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan believes it all boils down to consumer ignorance, which has allowed such high charges to remain for so long. [ie., the Health Minister says, "it basically is alll your fault". Correct me if i am wrong, since i pay taxe$$$ - and i would surely appreciate some expen$ive law-su... re-education.]

It was one of the reasons that prompted him to require hospitals here to declare the size of their median bills.

If ignorance led to the high prices at such institutes, then they speak volumes about their misguided missions.

It implies carelessness towards cost, indifference towards bringing their healing powers to as many as possible and a cavalier attitude towards pricing.

Singapore's battle to keep a lid on ever-rising health care costs is well-known. For many years, the Government has urged Singaporeans to do their part by being sensible when seeking treatment. [naaaaaan-ny, naaaan-ny, naaaa, ny!!! children!!! u have to listen!!!]

Refrain from going for the most expensive when a less-costly treatment brings the same outcome, it continually reminds the people. [sigh...]

Many Singaporeans have responded even as they come to terms with the inevitable: over time, health care costs will go up.

But what has unsettled most people, after the Lasik turn of events, is that part of the problem lies with the medical institutes which always had the power to correct the situation.

The Eye Centre is not the only one to cut its rates, but its revision is the most stark. From being the most expensive, topping even the rates at the private sector's up-market facility in Mount Elizabeth, it is now the cheapest.

But what sticks in the craw is the way the centres tried initially to justify high prices, saying 'private patients are free to choose any hospital they want'.

Perhaps the difference of $1,000 means little for doctors and hospital administrators with five-digit salaries.

Perhaps in their pursuit of quality care, cost was not viewed as a major factor, particularly for a procedure such as lasik which does not receive any Government subsidy.

Or perhaps, it is just plain apathy by an administration not under pressure to evaluate and do things better.

Indeed, cost may not even have been on the radar screen of these public-sector organisations, unlike the private sector where bottom-line considerations constantly require them to strive and seek out more efficient ways. [owwooooo!!! then why are we paying our ministers ... Never mind.]

Whatever the reason, the Health Ministry's publicising of the bills patients pay for similar procedures at different hospitals woke them up to the need to cut waste and fat.

In the past year, various hospitals have found glaring inefficiencies, such as having too many unnecessary tests or using expensive brand-name drugs when cheaper generics could do the job. The price of several treatments, such as gastroenteritis in children, has since come down.

Hopefully, they will look beyond the list made public and apply the new approach to all treatments offered.

This is not only being fair to their local patients, but would also make them more competitive against regional rivals.

As Mr Khaw notes: 'When there were no regional competitors, we could get away with high prices and there would still be foreign patients coming here. [thank you!!! thank you sooo very muchie...]. Now that competitors have emerged, we would have to relook and recalibrate.'

Doctors may have to work harder for the same handsome salaries. But they are not likely to become poorer for it, not when patients and Singapore as a whole will benefit.

More importantly, it is a moral obligation, especially in the public sector, to provide medical care in the most cost-effective way.

Make a profit, but do so without over inflating your bottom-line.


"Ohh, honey!!!"
"Yes, dear?"
"I think we'll have to find something else to do now, besides that career switch to a hospital career..."
"Ohh, DAMN..."

1 HaHaas:

Anonymous Anonymous HaHaa-ed:

At the broader level, that's how Sg runs matters! Caveat Emptor or buyer beware! If they overcharge us, they say we had a choice to buy from somewhere else. If they rip us off, they say we had a choice not to buy. When they get elected into power once again and start paying themselves astronomically high salaries, they say 'you made the choice to make us lead you what'.

The Void Deck

Thursday, November 04, 2004 8:53:00 PM  

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