Thursday, October 28, 2010

$8 bypass operation

The Minister for Health paid $8 for a bypass operations. This is low compared to what ordinary citizens have to pay for similar or less complicated operations, even when the citizens have Medishield and supplementary private covers similar to what was bought by the Minister.

One key reason is the ability to make the right decision in our complicated system. The Minister is probably more knowledgeable, compared to ordinary citizens, on what should or should not be spent and how to make the best use of the government facilities. Furthermore, he is likely to get the best advice from doctors who will look after his interest and help him to make the best decisions under the system.

Unfortunately, this type of helpful advice is not available to ordinary citizens who might have been asked to take more expensive tests and treatments (when cheaper options are available), due to the "conflict of interest" of the medical professionals - who earn a share of the medical charges.

I hope that the Minister for Health will set up a helpline to give the friendly advice to citizens on what they should do with their treatment, so that they can get the same help as the Minister probably had. And one more point, Minister. Please staff the helpline adequately, so that patients can get through without a long wait.

Tan Kin Lian

If any reader of my blog has a personal experience of paying too much for your medical bill, in spite of your insurance coverage, please write to me at


Hiei said...

Well, he didn't mention how much insurance premium he is paying every year.

Anonymous said...

As a heavyweight PAP Minister, is there any insurance company that would reject his claim?

Many people spend a large amount of money on medical insurance. They think they are "protected" until they fall ill and the the insurance company rejects their claims, citing reasons which were not made to them when they bought the policy.

simple said...

I would have thought that ministers as govt employess would have free medical care. Could it be that his insurance premium is covered by the govt and $8 is just an admin charge. I'm not sure what Mr.Khaw intended to convey to the man-in-the street. Is it to show how smart he is, or that everyone should follow his example of cover. If that's the case he should disclose the premium paid which, presumably include a 100% no co-payment provision, is probably quite pricey and not affordable for a large section of the people. People in position should be careful not to give misinformation, least of all the well-respected Mr Khaw. Perhaps it is the pressure of an impending election.


s said...

And he should make it known what are ministers' and senior civil servants health and medical insurance perks.

yujuan said...

Agree with above comments, no insurance Company would dare to reject claims by the big and mighty Health Minister of Singapore.
Hm, we also thought all MInisters
have free medical care while in service, would the Minister enlighten us on this, we are curious, very so, esp to taxpayers.

Soojenn said...


The Health Minister is probably very well covered by the medical benefits provided for government servants, and I believe that this is the KEY reason, more than anything else.

I know of civil servants who on retiring were given the option of continued medical benefits from the government or to take out a lump sum, and then be responsible for the medical costs on retire.

The smart ones obviously took the option of continued medical benefits after retirement, since most people will suffer from some ailment or other when they get old.

The result is that these people now don't only NOT have to pay for the medical costs, or perhaps foot out amounts like what the Health Minister is claiming to have paid, they are getting the best medical serice, like A class wards, access to specialists...etc..

I cannot imagine if our Health Minister is not covered up to the teeth for his medical benefits, without the need for him to take on any additional private coverage, and of course at the tax payer's expense.

Tan Kin Lian said...

Soo Jenn
I know that all minisers are NOT provided with medical benefits any more. They buy Shield and supplements to cover their medical benefits.

Unknown said...

My in law from Malaysia did a bypass and pay only hundreds of ringits without having to buy any medical insurance. Can we Singaporeans have that kind of care from Ministry if Health? Even buying medical insurance, we Singaporean cannot even be sure what our medical bill will be. Worse of all, insurance will find reasons to reject the claim. What a joke where Singapore is one of the richest country with world class infrastructures but for who will benefit...

John K said...

They posted his bill breakdown:

"Health Minister’s total bill for his bypass surgery came up to about $25,000; of which $20,000 was paid by insurance, and $5,000 by Medisave. Minister had subscribed to Basic MediShield (since it was launched in 1990) and topped it up with a private Medisave-approved Shield which covers Class A and private hospitals. He did not have any riders. The insurance premium for someone in his age range (51-60 years old) is about $330 - $662 for a Shield plan targeted at Class A hospitalisation. Presently, one can use up to $800 per policy per year from Medisave to pay for Medisave-approved Shield plans."

Seems like his case is not out of the ordinary if you get a suitable insurance package to add on to what you can claim from Medisave? He's been paying insurance premiums all this while so think it's only fair that he claim now.

Premiums for someone his age (50s?) abt "$330 - $662 for a Shield plan targeted at Class A hospitalisation"?

Unknown said...

My father has bypass a few years ago. He only had the standard medishield. I can't remember the exact figure but we paid around $2k. I thought it's pretty affordable. If our minister paid $8, isn't it possible if he holds some other insurance polices?

Some of the articles here seems written in a way to lead the readers to a certain direction.

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