Patients owe public hospitals $110m?

Business Times
Published March 7, 2012

Data that may help in review of healthcare system



I REFER to the reply in parliament that the public hospitals were owed $48 million in arrears last year, accounting for 136,000 bills outstanding for two months or more.


Despite writing off $90 million in FY 2008, FY 2009 and FY 2010, public hospitals’ patients still owe $110 million in arrears.

As to 96 per cent of the restructured hospitals’ patients settling their bills within two months, I believe this includes bills from non-hospitalisation treatment, which are generally smaller in quantum.

According to the Department of Statistics, there were a total of 357,022 public sector hospital admissions in 2011.

So, what percentage of hospital admissions were unable to pay their bills?

What percentage of these patients who could not pay were helped by Medifund?

For patients who are in arrears, are their needs for further or future medical treatment affected in any way?

How many patients in total are now on instalment plans to pay their arrears?

How many patients in arrears have been referred to debt-collection agencies?

The above statistics may help in the review of our healthcare system, and provide indicators on the affordability of healthcare to Singaporeans.

For Medisave top-ups, such as the one-off top-up in the recent Budget, can the patients who have arrears or their family members use them to pay for their arrears?

According to the Ministry of Health’s website, the total bill at the 95th percentile in Class C at the National University Hospital is $11,081, which means that 5 per cent pay in excess of $11,081 in our lowest-class ward!

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.