Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Subsidy scheme: No 10-day wait in between GP visits

WE REFER to Ms Loo Yoke Chan's letter ('Senior blindsided by help scheme's restrictions at private clinic'; April 14) on her uncle's experience when he sought treatment at a private general practitioner clinic under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).

Our checks with the clinic in question revealed that on her uncle's second visit, he had been assisted by a locum clinic assistant who was unfamiliar with the scheme, and had mistakenly told him that he had to wait for 10 days after each visit to be eligible for subsidy under the scheme.

There is no such requirement.

Under the scheme, patients can receive subsidies when they consult general practitioners for long-term conditions under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) [such as diabetes and hypertension], or for acute episodes such as coughs and colds, as in the case of Ms Loo's uncle.

For patients with an acute condition, an administrative cap of four visits per month is put in place to ensure that those with multiple visits are carefully reviewed for potentially more serious underlying conditions that may require specialist or hospital care.

General practitioners can seek approval to exceed this cap should the patient's condition warrant it - for example, a patient who presents with different acute conditions during the one-month period.

We have made arrangements for the clinic to refund Ms Loo's uncle in full for the $32 he paid during his previous visit.

We will continue to work with general practitioners and dental clinics participating under the scheme to strengthen understanding and patient communication on it.
Bey Mui Leng (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Health
ST Forum, 23 Apr 2012

Senior blindsided by help scheme's restrictions at private clinic
MY 84-YEAR-OLD uncle, who is on public assistance, has been seeking treatment for his asthma at Toa Payoh Polyclinic for many years.

I finally managed to convince him to visit a private clinic near his home under the Community Health Assist Scheme instead of the polyclinic, to save on travelling and waiting time ('Health subsidy scheme gets new name'; Jan 16).

Early last month, my uncle was ill with the flu, ran a fever and was coughing. As he was too ill to visit the polyclinic, he went to a private clinic instead.

He was told by the nurse that there was a limit on the number of visits he could make to the clinic, but she did not elaborate.

The doctor prescribed medication for only three days. As my uncle still felt unwell after finishing the medication, he visited the same clinic again but was told he had to wait for 10 days after each visit, because he was allowed to use the Community Health Assist Scheme only three times a month.

As he was too ill to go to the polyclinic, he decided to pay the full fee at the private clinic.

He was shocked to find that it came up to $32 - with medication prescribed again for only three days.

Why did the clinic not inform him earlier that he would have to pay the full fee if he returned before 10 days had passed, and yet gave him medication for only three days?
Loo Yoke Chan (Ms)
ST Forum, 14 Apr 2012

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