Mr Tan Jiak Hong (“Rein in medicine charges at private hospitals”; Forum Online, last Thursday) quoted staff at a private hospital as saying that the charges at the private hospital “had been reviewed by the hospital’s management committee and were supported by the Ministry of Health”.

Private hospital charges do not fall under the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) purview; private hospitals set their fees independently.

According to the Singapore Medical Council’s Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines, a doctor cannot abuse the doctor-patient relationship for personal gain. This means a doctor shall not let financial considerations imposed by his own practice, investments or financial arrangements influence the objectivity of his clinical judgment in the treatment of his patients.

A doctor shall refrain from improperly obtaining fees from patients, improperly prescribing drugs or appliances in which he has a financial interest, and fee-sharing or obtaining commissions from referral of patients.

To increase transparency and enable patients to make more informed choices, the total hospital bill sizes of 80 procedures in public and private hospitals are published on MOH’s website. This will help Singaporeans make more informed choices.

From next month, MOH will also publish the “total operation fees”, which is a component of the total hospital bill comprising the “surgeon fee”, “anaesthetist fee” and “facility fee” in our public hospitals.

Publishing such data for both unsubsidised and subsidised patients in our public hospitals will serve as a useful point of reference on procedure-related professional fees, which are applicable to both public and private sector health-care providers.

MOH will continue to work to extend transparency of health-care charges to facilitate informed decision-making by patients.

Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Health

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