A letter was published in the Straits Times Forum page complaining about the high fee charged for a medical report. The Singapore Dental Center replied that the cost of $90 (or thereabouts) represent only a part of their total cost in preparing the report.
I consider the cost of $90 to be excessive. An "angry doc" asked me to state what I felt the fee should be. I replied "$30". Another anonymous doctor said that he would outsource the writing of the report to other doctors for this fee. This argument is not fair, as it will be more difficult for another doctor, who is not attending to the patient, to write the report with the same effort.
A member of the public asked me to justify the $30, which he felt to be too high. A doctor charged only $30 for a consultation. He argued that the cost of writing a report should be lower.
This is the kind of problem that can arise when the regulators decide to leave such matters to the "free market". Actually, there is no free market here - but a monopolistic situation.The doctor who attended to the patient is the only party that has the information to write the medical report. They can charge whatever they want, and justify their fee based on the effort taken to write the report. If they are inefficient, their cost is obviously higher, so they can easily justify a high fee.
We also have to define what constitute the report. My suggestion of $30 is for a routine report that will take the attending doctor 10 minutes to write. I have seen many doctors and it takes this time for them to read their patient card and write down what is the problem with me relating to a specific medical condition. In most cases, this is what is needed to support an insurance claim or application for insurance.
A more detailed and complete medical report covering all of a patient's medical condition would obviously cost much more than $30. But, this is only required for exceptional cases, and is not the norm. There is a low cost way and a high cost way to write a medical report. The consumer would want a low cost, and the doctor would want a high cost. How can this be resolved in the "free market environment" in Singapore?
I hope that our government leaders and regulators will find out what is really happening on the ground and why consumers are complaining about the high cost of living in Singapore. There are countless examples happening every day.
Tan Kin Lian
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