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Singapore insurance body offers standard form to simplify pre-authorisation of hospital bills

THE Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA Singapore) has introduced a standard form for the pre-authorisation of hospital and surgical bills.

This will simplify the process and minimise the administrative burden for doctors, the trade body said on Friday.

All Integrated Shield Plan (IP) insurers that offer pre-authorisation services will use the new form starting from Oct 1 this year, and no later than March 31, 2020.

The document is to be completed by the policyholder’s attending doctor, for purposes of the pre-authorisation application and assessment.

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No action is required of policyholders.

Prior to this, life insurers were each using their own pre-authorisation form. Doctors thus had to fill in different forms with different required information.

The standardised form was developed with feedback from doctors, LIA Singapore said.

“A unified practice would avert a situation such as the one in the United States where a lack of standardisation has led to an excessive administrative burden on medical providers,” it added.

Pre-authorisation is a service where the IP insurer gives prior approval to the hospitalisation and/or medical treatment and associated costs before the actual surgery or admission.

It is designed for elective treatment in the private healthcare sector, for patients (policyholders) seeking specialist care by private doctors in private hospitals.

LIA Singapore said that pre-authorisation is beneficial as it gives patients peace of mind to know their procedures are within their insurance coverage. Healthcare providers can also gain clarity on the type of procedures covered by insurance to better advise patients before the surgeries, and insurers can assess the medical necessity and cost of the treatment to ensure it is within the terms and conditions of the policy.

All Singapore citizens and permanent residents are covered for basic public hospital treatments under MediShield Life. IPs offered by insurance companies extend this coverage, allowing policyholders to upgrade to a higher-class ward and/or go to private hospitals.

The latest initiative of the standardised form follows the LIA guidance paper issued last year outlining good practices on the pre-authorisation framework and process for IPs.

The paper simplifies insurance procedures as well as provides information to manage claims cost inflation and premiums. It was one of the recommendations made in October 2016 by the Health Insurance Task Force, which comprised industry and government representatives.

LIA pre-authorisation form: