MOH to work with insurance companies on claims process

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Task force's recommendations on managing healthcare costs

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will work with insurance companies to "improve and strengthen their claims process" so people will not end up paying high premiums.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the ministry is seeing how it can implement some of the recommendations from the Health Insurance Task Force report released last year, which highlighted the sharp rise in claims - a major driver of healthcare costs here.

Mr Gan said: "We want to give the assurance and ensure that premiums are sustainable in the long term and don't result in excessive claims."

One of the task force's recommendations is to provide benchmarks for professional fees.

Mr Gan said in an interview with the local media this week that MOH will come up with benchmarks of what are reasonable fees for doctors to charge.

The fee benchmarks, which should be available next year, would help patients know how much they are expected to pay, and help doctors decide on what are reasonable fees to charge.

Mr Gan said the benchmarks could also help insurers know what are the reasonable reimbursement rates for treatments.

The introduction of the benchmarks is one part of a three-pronged strategy by MOH to ensure people continue to receive quality healthcare here that is sustainable.

The strategy includes: continued care for discharged patients; ensuring good value for quality care; and programmes for people to stay healthier for longer.

Mr Gan hopes the strategy would help slow down spiralling healthcare costs which are expected to soar as new and expensive medical treatments hit the market amid greater demand for elective treatments with better access to healthcare, and an ageing population.

More hospitals, nursing homes and polyclinics are coming online within the next few years.

New hospitals, like the one in Sengkang which opens next year, will work closely with general practice clinics and polyclinics to ensure that discharged patients continue to get the care they need.