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MOH names 12-member committee to address health insurance issues

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (April 14) announced the appointment of a 12-member committee comprising representatives from the medical and insurance fraternity as well as Singapore’s consumer watchdog. It is set up to “collaboratively address” issues related to health insurance here.

The Ministry of Health said that the committee will be the “primary platform” through which the ministry, doctors, insurers and hospitals work together to enhance Singapore’s healthcare insurance system.

The Ministry of Health said that the committee will be the “primary platform” through which the ministry, doctors, insurers and hospitals work together to enhance Singapore’s healthcare insurance system.

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (April 14) announced the appointment of a 12-member committee comprising representatives from the medical and insurance fraternity as well as Singapore’s consumer watchdog. It is set up to “collaboratively address” issues related to health insurance here.

The Multilateral Healthcare Insurance Committee will start its work from April 27, MOH said in a statement.

It will be co-chaired by Ms Ngiam Siew Ying, the ministry’s deputy secretary of policy, and Dr Daphne Khoo, deputy director of medical services of its health performance group.

MOH said that the committee will be the “primary platform” through which the ministry, doctors, insurers and hospitals work together to enhance Singapore’s healthcare insurance system.

Among other tasks, MOH said that the committee will:

  • Work in the public and patients’ best interest in providing recommendations on ensuring quality, safe, cost-effective and affordable healthcare for Singaporeans
  • Recommend improvements to manage rising healthcare costs in the current healthcare insurance system
  • Guide the establishment of platforms to address complaints and conflicts arising from healthcare insurance claims

The announcement came after a recent row between the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) and the Life Insurance Association (LIA) over the management of Integrated Shield Plans and how life insurers appoint doctors to their panels.

MOH noted that the involvement of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, the Fee Benchmarks Advisory Committee (FBAC), LIA, SMA and private hospitals in the committee will provide an opportunity for the stakeholders to work collaboratively towards the shared objectives, as well as be “ambassadors for decisions taken by” it.

“Case’s participation will also help to represent and uphold policyholders’ interests,” MOH said, referring to the Consumer Association of Singapore.

The members of the new committee are:

The new committee, MOH said, stems from an earlier pro-tem committee established in October last year between the Academy of Medicine Singapore, LIA and SMA to facilitate discussions related to Integrated Shield Plans, which are insurance plans managed by the Central Provident Fund Board and private insurers.

“Since its inception, the pro-tem committee has made progress over issues such as the amendment of Integrated Shield Plan contracts’ exclusion clauses to cover medically indicated diagnostic procedures, improving consumer education on the Integrated Shield Plan, improving panel sizes and facilitating the setting of panel fees to be within the MOH fee benchmarks,” the ministry said.

“The Multilateral Healthcare Insurance Committee will build on the work of the pro-tem committee, and will focus on key priority areas including improvements to the accessibility and transparency of Integrated Shield Plan doctor panels, enhancements to the claims pre-authorisation process for treatment, and improving transparency across the board.”

More details on the new committee's recommendations will be released when ready, MOH said, adding that it will “work collaboratively with all stakeholders” to strike a balance between preserving patient choice and ensuring quality, cost-effective and sustainable care.

Earlier this month, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Health, said that Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will set up the committee to look into the management of the Integrated Sheild Plans — including doctor panels — as the medical fraternity and insurers tussle over various issues. 

“The committee will take the work forward, and work in the public’s and patients’ interest to deliberate and implement changes for quality, safe, cost-effective and affordable care for all,” Dr Koh had said.

SMA and LIA have locked horns over the mechanics of Integrated Shield Plan schemes.

On March 25, SMA issued a position statement decrying that insurers had formed “highly exclusive” medical panels that excluded many private specialists and had disrespected fee benchmarks.

The association representing doctors here also complained that insurance premiums had increasingly been used for non-healthcare cost items, such as insurers' management expenses and commissions for insurance agents.

In its response, LIA, which represents insurers, said that there were cases of “over-treatment” by medical providers. It also called out SMA for using misleading analysis on insurers’ costs and claim costs.

Related topics

healthcare MOH Singapore Medical Association LIA insurance

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