On March 17, I blogged about "Insurance selling at Mount E", a service that I thought was inappropriate as it was being offered just before a patient went in for a procedure/operation.
I followed it up with a comment in Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan's blog in which I asked whether the MAS or the Ministry of Health (MOH) had given permission to Parkway Holdings, owner of Mount Elizabeth Hospital, to sell the product.
I also directed MOH to my blog to read the details of my experience in the hospital.
Today (March 26), I received the following response from MOH:
"The product marketed to you is not one of the Medisave-approved Shield plans regulated by MOH. It is a private insurance plan jointly developed and offered by Parkway Hospitals (of which Mount Elizabeth Hospital belongs to) and Overseas Assurance Corporation Ltd.
"This product insures against risk of complications through reimbursing the cost of additional medical treatment sought, subject to terms and conditions.
"Depending on the person’s existing medical coverage, there may be some overlap in coverage between this plan and other medical insurance plans such as the Shield plans.
"It is prudent to carefully consider your needs and desired coverage when purchasing insurance. We understand your concerns in the way the insurance plan was presented to you, and will feedback to Mount Elizabeth Hospital."
From the reply, I assume Parkway does not need permission to sell insurance at its hospitals but I am not sure. So I have sent another query to the Minister to ask whether it needed permission from either MAS or MOH to do so.
I am however cheered that MOH understood my concerns about the inappropriateness of the insurance sale and will give the feedback to the hospital.
As I have said, I have no problems with Parkway, as a listed company, wanting to increase its revenue. I only hope that it would do its selling at a more appropriate place and time.
MOH replied today to my latest query:
"The marketing of products in general does not require prior permission from MOH. As a responsible healthcare provider, hospitals should ensure that they do not exert undue pressure or influence on patients in a vulnerable state of mind. "
Well, let's hope our private hospitals will now take heed. I also wonder what the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which is in charge of the insurance industry, has to say!!