Monday, February 26, 2007


Someone complained of being overcharged by a GP during the Chinese New Year:

Clinic charged $42 for consultation over CNY

DURING the long weekend to celebrate Chinese New Year, an incident occurred which I feel I have to clear my doubts about.

It happened that my grandmother had gastric flu and had to consult a doctor. As it was a public holiday, we had to go to Tampines Central where there was a 24-hour family clinic.

It is actually quite heartening to know there is still a clinic nearby when you need one, even on a public holiday.

When we reached the clinic, we found out it charged $42 for consultation alone. This charge applied from Feb 17 to 20, from 7am to midnight. It did not include any medicine or anything else.

I find it disturbing that patients are charged such a high amount just for consultation. Are the doctors different? Is the service provided different?

Just because the clinic is open 24 hours and has to stay open during public holidays, it does not have the right to raise consultation fees so high.

It is true that staff may have to be paid more during public holidays, but there were three staff members at the dispensary when two would have been more than sufficient.

I would like to know if there are rules or guidelines which private clinics have to follow regarding the charging of consultation fees during public holidays. I do not think it is right that patients who fall ill during this period are charged so much more.

It may be reasonable to charge $20, but $42 is far too much. On a normal day, $42 would be more than enough to pay for the consultation and medicine.

Andrew Chia Teck Fatt

ST Forum, Feb 23, 2007

Then today more letters appeared in the papers in response to this. But I wanted to give a standing ovation to this particular person:

Thank docs who make themselves available

I REFER to the letter, 'Clinic charged $42 for consultation over CNY' by Mr Andrew Chia Teck Fatt (ST, Feb 23).

I do sympathise with Mr Chia, but I honestly feel he should not begrudge the fact that his grandmother was charged $42. In fact, he should be grateful to the doctor who made himself available on a public holiday when most clinics are closed.

If he had taken his grandmother to a public hospital, he would have had to pay a higher fee. Public hospitals charge no less than $70 per consultation. In addition, he would have had to wait at least a couple of hours to see a doctor.

I called a plumber recently to fix a leaking tap. He charged me $400 without batting an eyelid.

I called an electrician to fix a fuse box, and he charged me $600 without hesitation.

I called a roof contractor to fix a leaking roof. He sent a worker up to the roof with a pail of cement. The worker came down within five minutes and I had a $500 bill. I paid because it was after office hours and a public holiday.

Why do we complain when we pay $42 to the hardworking doctor who makes himself available on a public holiday? It's a pittance to say the least.

I believe the good doctor should have charged Mr Chia $100 for a consultation on a public holiday. And that, I feel, is still very modest.

Amy Ng Siok Im (Ms)

ST Forum Feb 26, 2007

I have said it before & I will say it again. Singaporeans do not realise how good they have it. The very fact that GP clinics stay open on public holidays/weekends/24 hours a day is not appreciated. $42 for a consultation is extremely reasonable under the circumstances. But unfortunately, in Singapore, priorities are all screwed up. It's OK to pay $2,000 for a Tod's handbag or thousands of dollars to the beautician for a facial spa package. But when it comes to your health, $42 is WAAYYYY too much.



nofearSingapore said...

Our people are getting ridiculous.
Sometimes I don't blame the govt for behaving the way they (govt) do.

Try getting an appointment to see a specialist in London or any major US city!

Try seeing a doctor over Christmas or Thanksgiving!

Instiable demand - that is what we are dealing with!


aliendoc said...

Hi Dr Huang: my sentiments exactly.

I think part of the reason why the attitude is such is because of the rampant spoon-feeding that Singaporeans are used to; they are used to the government taking care of things for them & as a result take things for granted or feel that they are entitled to things like cheap housing/school/healthcare etc.

Wake up people!

pretzel said...

Agree with the paternalistic govt style that helped create this generation of people.

It also doesn't help that the general public's perception of the GPs who only dispense cough medicine and MCs.

aliendoc said...

hi pretzel: sad isn't it? So should we be surprised that there is a lack of entrepreneurial spirit & creativity in Singapore?