Buffet syndrome?

The health minister used the term “buffet syndrome” to describe the unnecessary and over-comsumption of health care services. He blamed the patients for this behavior. He thinks that the patients like to consumer the services because it is free, i.e. paid by insurance or largely subsidised by the government.

The minister is mistaken. I am not referring only to the current minister, but to the previous ministers. This mistaken belief had been prevalent for three decades.

I have not found any evidence of patients who like to cosume health care because it is free or largely subsidised.

The over consumption is largely due to doctors and hospitals. They are running a business. If they can get the patients to consumer more, they earn a larger income or profit.

Some doctors and hospitals will prescribe more treatment to generate the income and profit. I am not suggesting that all doctors and hospitals behave in this manner. But the anecdotal evidence does suggest that this is quite prevalent.

To overcome the over comsumption, attention should be focused on the doctors and hospitals rather than the patients.

The patients do not have a choice. They depend on the doctors for advice on what is necessary. Even if they ask for a second opinion, it does not help much in most situations.

Asking patients to make a co-payment does not solve the problem. Most patients will buy insurance, known as a “rider” to cover the co-payments. Restricting the scope fo the rider will also not solve the problem. Most patients are not able to make the sensible choice.

To stop the over-consumption and explosion of health care cost, the ministry of health has to step in. They have to set system to prevent the over consumption of services and the over charging for these services.

We can study the system adopted in Japan. Each year, the ministry of health negotiates with the doctors and hospitals on the cost of providing each type of treatment. This negotiation produces charges that are adequate for doctors and hospitals to cover their expenses and earn an adequate income and prevent the over charging for these expenses. It also ensure that the charges are reasonable from the perspective of the patient and the government, which bears 70% of the cost.

As there is sufficient demand for the services, there is no need for the doctors and hospitals to generate unnecessary demand to increase their income.

I believe that there is a system for the ministry of health to audit the provision of the services. i do not know if this is the case. It should be possible for this kind of audit to be carried out.

Tan Kin Lian

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9 Responses to “Buffet syndrome?”

  • Mainstreet Citizens:

    One of the main culprits is having inexperienced doctors from third world universities to do the diagnosis at the public hospitals. Some of your friends or relatives may have this experience of having unnecessary tests and even wrong diagnosis before getting the it right. I myself personally was referred to an ENT so-called specialist at the public hospital who wanted me to undergo a series of examinations even though I had cervical spine issues on record. I declined and subsequently consult a third party. We used to have enough experienced doctors at the public hospitals but the white population paper create chaos on demand and supply balance. Remember what Sylvia Lim said : ” People fights for resources (e.g. medical, hospitals beds, police officers, mrts,car parks, common spaces)”.

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  • PAP.Guarantee.Win.GE2020:

    Dear TKL,

    Why do you take up the CEO post of NTUC ?

    1) Because you want to earn more money right ?
    Yes, What’s wrong with collecting more monies ?

    2) Because you are following your dream aka rainbow right ?
    Yes, Follow that rainbow, Go ride it.

    So, why is it you allow yourselves to collect more monies but you do not allow others to collect more monies ?

    Yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong for hospital or everyone to collect monies.

    Join us PAP atPAP 99 Campaign.
    - We PAP support 9% GST hike for Singaporeans.
    - We PAP support 9% salary increment for Ministers, MPs and Civil Servants.
    - We PAP support Singapore to be cheaper, better and faster.

    Readers beware: Opposition will crash Singapore. Watch this video clip.

    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat Huat Huat

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  • rukidding:

    Every Minister has a “story” or a “select committee” to “convince” you !

    Don’t worry, their “story” and “committees” will always “produce” results that they had wanted.

    Amazing truth never hurt any dafts ! !

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  • N.Jungne:

    Not bad at all, invite Heng SK, the PM or.82 MPs and Ministirs for buffet at the Hospital

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  • Shenke:

    Buffet is not a medical word.

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  • NotMyProblem:

    I have had a medical problem several years back but I am totally cured, but my doctor insists that I go to see him every 3 months, just to follow up. Each time I went I was only asked about my condition, no check up nor any other procedure done. And I have to pay for the consultation I don’t need. Hospitals are supposed to be visited when one is ill, but for me I went to hospital TO BE ILL!!

    I noticed there were a lot of healthy people just to visit hospital because of appointment, not because they were sick. So who created this over crowded situation? Further all these appointments are usually for specialist doctors, which cost almost double for consultation!!

    Are hospitals doing so because they want to make money!!??

    Even if health care are subsidised, I need to take time off from work, which was either my annual leave or unpaid leave!!

    So buffet or not, I don’t want it!!!

    Just like the Skillfuture, or the like, funding, who benefited from this?? Not the trainees, it was the course providers who benefited!!

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  • concernedsingaporean:

    Mr. Tan is correct. As for me to avoid consultant doctors in our subsidized hospital to keep asking me to do unnecessary tests all over again each year, I keep on my continuous consultation to see them regularly and pay excessive consulting fees.

    If I stop seeing them, next time I see them, they want to start from step 1 from X-Ray, MRI scan, physiotherapy all over again the state owned hospitals can make monies.

    This is the result of Party Against People failing in their jobs while trying to maximize profits without lowering healthcare cost and not subsiziding healthcare cost for citizens.

    So, I end up paying S$ 80+ for each consultation and some tests in order to receive the subsidized consultation, tests, and so forth in order not to miss any visit.

    Otherwise, next time I see them, I need to pay more because of co-opt and top-up for X-Ray, MRI scan, etc ….

    This is how fcuk up our stated owned hospitals trying to maximizing Singaporean because Party Against People refuses to help Singaporean.

    So, in Singapore, you can die but cannot fall sick.

    Current PAP is failure and incompetent.

    Jobs for FTs, unemployment for Singaporean
    Monies to FTs, tax to Singaporean

    This is how Party Against People is today … incompetent and failure while self enriching themselves and trying to wayang and scream murders at WP.

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  • Ground out:

    I was taking a shortcut through the cemetery yesterday when I came across some council workers digging up a grave.
    Being the busybody I am, I went over and asked, “What’s going on?”
    The guy in the hole said, “We’re exhuming this body.”
    “Oh, is it part of some ongoing murder investigation?” I asked.
    “No,” he replied, “the government have deemed him fit for work.”

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  • Taleban:

    We are not medically trained. When the doctor said to do this test and that test, who are we to say no.
    Out of fear we take the test on the doctor recommendation.
    Buffet Syndrome should stop,starting from the hospitals and doctors.

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