For those who have not already heard, the Ministry of Health has just passed a new bill that mandates all Medishield plan owners to bear part of the costs of hospitalization and treatment, 5% at least to be exact. Before you start taking up your riot torches, calm down and see the big picture.
It’s actually a good thing! And I’m not talking about just for the insurers, but for consumers and even for the government as well.
There are 2 problems with the absence of co-payment in healthcare plans:
1. Abuse by healthcare professionals and businesses.
Put yourself in the shoes of a surgeon who needs to quote your fees for a tumor-removal operation. Your usual price maybe $30k. Now, if a patient comes in and does not seem to care one bit about your charges, can you seriously say that you won’t be tempted to perhaps increase your price to perhaps $35k instead? Even if it’s not $35k, how abt just $31k? Once doctors and hospitals know that you are fully covered by insurance, it gives them free reign to charge you as they please since you will probably not care. And that is also what is happening to the American healthcare system. With everyone being covered by insurance, healthcare costs are ballooning like nobody’s business. Doctors are getting filthy rich because they can easily inflate their prices and insurer’s just have to pay out.
2. Abuse by patients.
More than that, you are also more inclined to request for more checks, analysis, treatments than is actually necessarily, since, well, you don’t have to pay a single cent! Since you are already in hospital, might as well request for a few slew of tests like x-rays, ultrasounds, etc. just to make sure everything is ok, since it is ‘free’ anyway. Therein lies the whole principle why deductibles and co-insurance were introduced in the first place. When clients are forced to pay a portion of the bill, it is much less likely for them to order anything they please since it will cost them some money at least.
Currently, deductibles and co-insurance are part of the Medishield plans. However, clients have the ability to pay for riders that will waive off these 2 components entirely. And that is what this new announcement is meant to be tackle. The government will now mandate that riders cannot waive off the entire cost of treatments, and consumers will have to bear at least 5% of the costs, depending whether they choose to include riders in their plans.
Why is this good?
1. Healthcare professionals and businesses cannot distort prices since patients will scrutinize costs since they have to fork out some cash on their own now.
2. You will not treat hospital services as a buffet line since you have to bear some of the costs for every thing you ‘order’.
3. The government can keep healthcare costs down and ensure sustainability for all parties, insurers and the healthcare industry.
So, at the end of the day, while you are probably looking at more out-of-pocket cash if you do need treatments in the hospital, but think of it as spending the additional premiums you would have paid for the full-riders. It will also help to keep your premiums down as insurers do not need to raise premiums as often to cover the exorbitant payouts by those who abuse it.
So celebrate this move by the government as it is a necessary step to reign in healthcare expenses and make it more sustainable for everyone. Just remember that you should save more for yourself just incase you need to share in the 5% cost of whatever treatments you require in future!