According to health experts, such cases do happen in the private healthcare sector. “Insurance sometimes creates the so-called moral hazard of overconsumption,” said healthcare economist, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy’s Associate Professor Phua Kai Hong.
“That is a worldwide phenomenon and I don’t think Singapore is any different. So the moment you bring in private insurance to complement or supplement, you have to be very clear about what the rules are.”
Dr Sabnis added: “There will be a few guys who will definitely bend the rules, you can’t prevent that. Private hospitals, if I may say, also look at what value the person will bring per day.”
Insurers have noticed the trend and they say overconsumption of health insurance could make premiums rise more quickly than they already have due to medical inflation.
Said Mr Seah: “Maybe a ‘commonsensical’ approach to this would be: ‘If I have to pay out of my pocket, instead of through insurance, would I still need that treatment, and secondly, would I still be looking for that specialist treatment?'”
The key in this entire equation, the LIA said, is “sustainability”, which is why it wants to collaborate with the Government and healthcare providers, such as doctors and healthcare institutions, on how best to achieve this. It will also have to convince consumers who are, after all, paying customers.
“We have been paying insurance premiums,” said “Andrew”. “All these years when nothing happens, we don’t claim. And when the time comes, we want to be compensated properly. We feel that since we’ve been paying the premiums, then make use of it.”
If overconsumption becomes a bigger problem, there are concerns that insurers may lobby for Medisave limits to be raised so people can cope with rising premiums. Healthcare economists added that would eat into a fund meant for pressing medical expenses and there have to be tighter regulations to clamp down on excessive claims.
By John Leong
See full story at www.channelnewsasia.com