Dollars and Sense
The cost of outpatient consultation and investigations for urinary tract symptoms: S$200
The average inpatient bill (after subsidy for C class) for investigation and treatment of urinary tract infection: S$300
The chance to see a Singaporean point of view on healthcare costs: priceless
angry doc feels sorry for the person who has to reply to this letter:
Bills pile up with too many visits to hospital
ON SATURDAY, Oct 7, I took my son, who was experiencing excruciating pain near the kidney, to the A&E Department of Changi General Hospital where a urine test was conducted and blood was detected.
The doctor prescribed some antibiotics as he suspected either an infection or stone in the kidney and referred him to a specialist the following Wednesday. The bill: $65.50.
On Wednesday, when my son told the specialist he was no longer experiencing pain, he was told to go for another urine test and to return on Saturday for an X-ray to confirm his condition. The bill: $37.50.
On Saturday, the X-ray was taken (cost: $55.50) and I was told that my son would have to return on Oct 27 for the specialist to tell us the results, for which I would have to pay another $37.50.
I was told by the hospital that if my son had been admitted for, say, removal of kidney stones on his first visit, I would have been able to pay for the expenses with my Medisave funds.
It is my opinion that all expenses incurred in the exploratory stages, though done during different visits to the hospital, should be payable with Medisave funds when the tests finally result in a patient having to be admitted to hospital.
Also, why penalise the patient, when the scheduling for appointments and admission is done by the hospital?
The appointment on Oct 27 with the specialist is for the results of the X-ray to be made known to us. Why is there a need for the fourth visit and to wait 13 days when the results could be relayed to us via phone, e-mail or fax two to three days after the X-ray was done?
Why does one need to make so many visits?
If the urine test and X-ray could be done at the A&E, couldn't the final results be made known during the visit to the specialist?
Carol Lim Siew Imm (Ms)
angry doc is often amused by how the Medisave system shapes people's decisions on healthcare matters.
It seems that Ms Lim feels it's a better idea for her son to be admitted for investigation and treatment of his condition even though that will possibly double the size of the medical bill (95th percentile), since that money will come out of her Medisave funds rather than her own pocket.
Never mind the trouble that it would actually cause her family to have her son admitted, the cost of transport for the family to and from the hospital to visit him, or the bed and manpower her son would take up while he is being investigated (for what seems to be a condition which can be investigated and managed on an outpatient basis), possibly denying or delaying someone else who needed that bed more.
Ironically, while she wanted admission for management of the problem, she is happy to receive the results of the investigations for that problem 'via phone, e-mail or fax'.
No need to see a doctor to discuss the implications of the findings or further management options and plan.
Anything to avoid having to pay out of pocket, it seems.
Perhaps there really *are* some things money can't buy...
Added: The reply to Ms Lim's letter is reproduced below.
Why patients have to return for review of special X-ray
I REFER to the letter by Ms Carol Lim Siew Imm, 'Bills pile up with too many visits to hospital' (ST, Oct 18).
It is necessary for patients to come back for a review of their specialised X-ray examination results. This is to ensure confidentiality as well as to provide professional consultation on the medical condition.
A normal result does not exclude other causes of the problem. Hence it is necessary in this case for a review by the specialist to discuss the other possible causes of the problem and decide on the management plan.
Our staff has spoken to Ms Lim to explain the situation. She wanted to know why the Intravenous Urography (IVU) could not have been done on the day her son saw the urologist, and why it takes 13 days to churn out the report from the time the IVU was done until the follow-up date.
The IVU could not be done immediately because the patient's bowels had to be cleared for the examination. Once the radiographer has done the procedure, the films would be reported by the radiologist.
In addition, we would need to find the earliest available slot for the patient to see the doctor for the review of the results.
If Ms Lim needs further clarification, she could contact Ms Grace Segran of Corporate Affairs on 6850-2734.
We thank Ms Lim for bringing this matter to our attention.
T. K. Udairam
Chief Executive Officer
Changi General Hospital