You're just not transparent enough!
Picture this : A magazine cover reads "Zoe Tay in a transparent outfit!" You flip the magazine and you see Zoe Tay in a transparent gown except the important areas are NOT transparent.
Well after reading this letter in the Straits Times Forum, I can understand why people are calling for more transparency. And Ms Chan has got the wrong parts that they want transparent.
Polyclinics' flat rate for drugs benefits chronic patients
I THANK Mr Chua Koon Ngee for his letter, 'Why medicines cost more at polyclinics' (ST, Nov 28).
At all polyclinics, essential drugs are priced at $1.40 per week's supply per drug. This flat rate applies regardless of the actual drug cost or the number of doses taken per week.
While this means that some patients may end up paying more than the actual cost of their medications, the majority of chronic patients who need to take more expensive drugs on a long-term basis will benefit from the flat rate.
For example, a common diabetic medication that requires the patient to take six tablets a day over a period of 10 weeks would have cost $21 before subsidy. However, because of the $1.40 per week standard fee at the polyclinics, it would cost the patient only $14.
Similarly, the most expensive anti-Parkinson drug, given over 10 weeks, would cost $136.50 before subsidy but it would cost the patient only $14 at the polyclinics.
One should not just look at specific drug pricing which varies from institution to institution but rather overall affordability for the patient, and take into account doctors' consultation fee and other service charges.
Though the per-unit cost of drugs at the Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOCs) may be lower than at polyclinics, the overall bill size of a patient seen at polyclinics is still lower and affordable, than if one is treated at an SOC or in a hospital.
With regard to Mr Chua's feedback on the need for transparency of charges presented on the invoice, patients can request a breakdown of their bill.
However, most of our patients do not require a breakdown as most of the drugs are charged using the standard flat fee.
To better serve the needs of our patients, we are in the process of enhancing our invoice presentation.
We thank Mr Chua for his valuable feedback.
Chan Soo Chung (Ms)
National Healthcare Group Pharmacy
Just to recap the important points:
1) "some patients may end up paying more than the actual cost of their medications"
You see Ms Chan, this is really where people are not happy about. Nobody complains when they pay less than the actual cost of their medications. For the matter, do the MAJORITY of patients pay less than the actual cost of their medications? You have to understand, most Singaporeans are not interested in how much they are paying for the next guy buying those expensive medications. They only want to know how much they are paying for their medicines and how much the medicines COST to the Polyclinic!
2) "patients can request a breakdown of their bill"
3) "However, most of our patients do not require a breakdown as most of the drugs are charged using the standard flat fee"
Which leads us to points 2 and 3. There is little point in providing a breakdown of the bill if it does not provide the most important information that we want to see. What is the cost of each medicine given per tablet/per week whatever to the Polyclinic and how much am I paying? Do the bill breakdowns say these? They don't. So nobody bothers. It's like Zoe Tay wearing the "transparent outfit" but with the vital areas covered up.
Everyone suspects and will continue to suspect (and they might be right after all) that the Polyclinics STILL make PROFITS despite all this talk about "Similarly, the most expensive anti-Parkinson drug, given over 10 weeks, would cost $136.50 before subsidy but it would cost the patient only $14 at the polyclinics."
Why? Because the number of people paying MORE than the cost of medicines at Polyclinics are MORE than the people paying less and the amount collected from te majority is still MORE than the subsidies they give to the few patients who need the expensive medicines.
Admit it MOH, you run the Polyclinics, hospitals etc as businesses. All this talk about subsidy.....why not be COMPLETELY transparent?
There is a term for this. It's called being NAKED.
"Zoe Tay NAKED" Now that's what the people really want. Forget being transparent.
Is that transparent enough for you?