A Reminder to Get Private Hospitalisation Coverage

By Lauren Nelson https://www.flickr.com/photos/lulieboo/3251750467

19 Apr A Reminder to Get Private Hospitalisation Coverage

I do not like to bitch about life because I do not wish to waste my time on things that do not deserve my time and energy. But sometimes, I just cannot help it. I mean, I am a human after all and we have to release our frustration. I would like to bitch about a recent incident but trust me, it is relevant to personal financial planning, and not some random rant. The incident taught me about the importance of paying more for an insurance plan which covers private hospital charges.

It goes like this. My mum complained of a sharp and nagging shoulder pain on one side and the pain pulsated down the arm to her fingers. She is a strong woman who never complained about hard work and has a high tolerance of pain. It must have hurt so much that she wanted to see a doctor urgently.

I was wondering where to bring her to? I suspect she would need an X-ray to ensure she has no bone problem, and most importantly, to arrange an appointment with an orthopaedic. I reckoned it would be faster to go to the hospital since the facilities were readily available. I was contemplating to send her to a private hospital as the waiting time would be shorter but as cost was a consideration, we decided on Singapore General Hospital instead.

We were prepared to wait. It was about 5 hours before we get to see the doctor and it was worth the wait. An X-Ray was done and she did not have any bone problem. It could be some nerve compression. She got her medicine and schedules for physiotherapy and an orthopaedic appointment. The orthopaedic appointment was 5 months away and she was given a week’s dose of medicine. We were told she could get more medicine at the polyclinic if required, and a letter was given to us.

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A week passed and my mum still needed medication to ease the pain. Hence, I went to the polyclinic to get the pills. To my disappointment, the pharmacist told me the letter was not a prescription and they did not have my mum’s record since the system was not integrated. I was shocked to hear that considering Geylang East Polyclinic and Singapore General Hospital were both part of SingHealth!

Reluctantly, I went to Singapore General Hospital to get the medicine from the pharmacy. The registration counter staff told me the same thing – it was not a prescription! I explained to her my mum was still in pain and the orthopaedic appointment was 5 months away. She couldn’t possibly endure the pain for so long. Moreover, we were told we were able to get the prescribed medicine and hence, we did not question the doctor why my mum was only given a week’s dose. She clarified that A&E doctors could only issue up to two weeks dosage. She said she could not help and suggest my mum to visit a doctor elsewhere or visit the A&E again.

I find it ridiculous that A&E doctors are not given the power to prescribe a dose that would cover the waiting period preceding the specialist appointment. Well, the hospital may have good reasons for that but I do not think it is helping the patients at all. It definitely doesn’t make sense to visit A&E and put more load on the staff to get another week of medicine.

Anyway, this case was a small issue and hence not claimable under Medishield or any private shield plans. What I wanted to highlight is that I was disappointed with our public healthcare system. I know they worked very hard. I pity the volume of patients they have to handle. It wasn’t the staff’s fault and the processes needed review. Nonetheless, we cannot afford to wait for them to get their act together. This incident reminded me that we should pay for the best integrated plans that cover private hospital expenses, as long as we can afford the premiums. In a life threatening situation, we would not want anything to screw up and it is always better to have the option to go public or private hospital without the need to worry about costs.

You can compare the types of hospitalisation plans here.


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  • lee
    Posted at 00:27h, 21 April Reply

    confused. this is an outpatient case vs private/public inpatient insurance coverage

    • Alvin Chow
      Posted at 07:30h, 21 April Reply

      this outpatient case has led me to have no confidence in future possible inpatient case (touch wood) handled by public hospital.

      hence, this incident highlighted the importance of getting private shield plans, to keep an open option for private hospitals.

  • Derek
    Posted at 10:19h, 21 April Reply

    Hi Alvin,

    In your mom’s scenario. A private shield plan will not help. What you need is a Personal Accident (PA) Plan. Personally I feel PA plans are under-rated. Maybe because the coverage is low and insurance should be for larger items? I had a few similar experience and had no qualms in heading straight to a Pte Hospital A&E. Saves me a lot of waiting of time.

    Wishing your mom a speed recovery.

    • ahchooka
      Posted at 16:10h, 21 April Reply

      I agree PA is important however in this case i doubt PA can help either. PA is for accident. if mom’s pain did not involve any accident, the insurance co will probably not pay for it.
      Medical shield plan help to subsidy hospital cost. In cases when a person is not feeling well and is asked to go back to wait for his turn for treatment in the public hospital, he can opt to go to the private hospital where his condition can be treated immediately.

  • Soma
    Posted at 12:18h, 21 April Reply

    I was just thinking of going through all the coverage that my family has (and should have), and your post served as a timely reminder.

  • ahchooka
    Posted at 16:02h, 21 April Reply

    you experience is not a isolated case…i have friend with similar experience too. It is very frustrating.

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