Singapore patients have good reasons to be afraid, says doctor

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A doctor in private practice for 24 years has criticised his colleagues  for overcharging and encouraging patients to go for surgery when they don’t need one.

In a letter to The Straits Times, Dr Tang  Kok  Foo gave examples  of a vicious  circle of doctor’s fee chasing higher rental cost with the poor patient the victim.

He concluded ominously:  “Singapore patients have good reasons to be afraid.”

“I am amazed at how expensive it has become to be treated by doctors in private practice over the past years. The surgical fee for simple lumbar disc surgery has shot up from $5,000 to as high as $25,000, even when performed by junior doctors,” he wrote.

Dr Tang blamed the free market in health care as one reason for the astronomical rise.

The other is the professional fee system in public hospitals which allows doctors to surcharge by 400 per cent their foreign patients. This has become a good “training ground” for doctors, he said.

Then there are frightened patients  eager to go for surgery even if there is no need for it. “For instance, many patients with bulging spinal discs that do not cause any health issues have agreed to surgery after being warned they could become paralysed if they have a fall,” he wrote.

Thanks, Dr Tang, for bringing to light such a trend of despicable greed. We hope somebody is listening.