Medical insurance is big business. Despite claims that it is unprofitable, the large insurance companies compete head-to-head for business and it is a sector that continues to attract new entrants.
Despite advancement in technologies and innovation in distribution methodologies, insurance companies remain stuck in traditional ways of doing things, and little has been done to bring down cost by eliminating inefficiencies.
Claims-handling processes between insurers and healthcare providers remain highly convoluted and manual.
Management and distribution costs continue to represent a major portion of insurers’ expenses and are ever increasing.
Little has been done to innovate the business model because there is no incentive to do so.
Medical professionals are no angels too.
But the insurance industry has avoided having the hard conversations with them all these years.
The assumption that restricting the number of medical practitioners on their panels would reduce claim costs is a fallacy.
By doing so, they have now altered competition in a free market, resulting in an open fight with the Singapore Medical Association.
For things to reach this stage, the Ministry of Health has some responsibility too.
Whoever wins the fight, the consumers will continue to be the losers.
Consumers like me who have been persuaded to buy full riders for the most comprehensive protection, and have faithfully paid premiums for more than 20 years without any claims, are now having our premiums increased and coverage restricted.
The fault is ours for trusting the system.
Patrick Tan Siong Kuan