Monday, 6 May 2019

Forum: Prudent to have limits to Medisave withdrawals

Mr Robin Yiu is right when he laments that the Flexi-Medisave annual limit of $200 is woefully insufficient when one seeks specialist medical care in the hospitals (Consider raising Flexi-Medisave limit, May 2).

Each full-paying specialist consultation charge in restructured hospitals before Pioneer Generation considerations is already way beyond $100, while private specialists will charge multiples of that.

But when the purse strings are opened, there is a tendency for medical expenses to balloon to fit the budget available for it.

Remove any constraints and the medical fraternity can empty out a Medisave nest egg in no time.

Pioneer Generation privileges available to Mr Yiu's wife for chronic ailments amounts annually to $540, while $500 can also be withdrawn using Medisave, and another $200 via Flexi-Medisave when spouses are also beyond the age of 65.

The limits of Medisave withdrawal have incrementally expanded from $300 to $500 now.

Of course, patients and doctors will always clamour for more, but enough must be left over for emergencies, and even more healthcare still when we become more stricken towards end of life.

Meanwhile, this is almost always enough in the primary healthcare setting for the appropriate management of two or three chronic conditions, with a little topping up if there is a fourth condition. Where necessary, spousal and children's Medisave can also be mobilised for utilisation.

It is expected that if patients want the latest, new-fangled treatments, which some do despite financial limitations, even where these are superfluous and cost-ineffective, then the sky is the limit because medical expenses are indeed extremely expansile.

Medical practitioners can exploit patients the way they innocently want to be mercilessly exploited, not judiciously treated.

Patients should use a primary healthcare professional they are assured of and entrust to him their medical problems.

A competent primary-care physician will know when more sophisticated, complex and much more exorbitant care in the tertiary-healthcare environment is needed for his patients and then refer them when necessary.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)


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