MOH sets up multi-stakeholder panel to address health insurance issues

THE Ministry of Health (MOH) has appointed a 12-member Multilateral Healthcare Insurance Committee (MHIC), comprising healthcare providers, payors, consumer representatives and the government, to address issues related to health insurance "collaboratively".

The appointment of the panel takes effect on April 27; more details on the committee's recommendations will be released when ready.

The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday: "The MHIC will be the primary platform through which MOH, doctors, insurers and hospitals work together to enhance Singapore's healthcare insurance system."

It will also work in the public and patients' best interests in providing recommendations related to ensuring quality and cost-effective healthcare, MOH added.

The MHIC comprises representatives from the Academy of Medicine, Singapore (AMS), Consumer Association of Singapore (Case), Fee Benchmarks Advisory Committee (FBAC), Life Insurance Association (LIA), Singapore Medical Association (SMA) and private hospitals.

It is co-chaired by MOH's Deputy Secretary (Policy) Ngiam Siew Ying and Deputy Director of Medical Services (Health Performance Group) Daphne Khoo.

Having various stakeholders on the committee will pave the way for working collaboratively towards the shared objectives of the MHIC; committee members will also serve as ambassadors for the decisions taken by the MHIC, said MOH.

Policyholders' interests will also be represented through Case's involvement.

The MHIC stems from an earlier pro-tem committee set up last October among AMS, LIA and SMA, to facilitate discussions related to integrated shield plans (IPs).

Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon had in early April said in a Facebook post that the existing pro-tem committee, which had been looking into issues related to IPs, will be formalised into a committee.

This followed a clash between doctors and insurers as policyholders make the transition into co-pay arrangements, which encourage seeking treatment from the insurers' accredited specialists or doctors.

MOH said in its statement that the pro-tem committee has made progress over issues such as the amendment of IP contracts' exclusion clauses to cover medically indicated diagnostic procedures, improving consumer education on IP, improving panel sizes and facilitating the setting of panel fees within the MOH fee benchmarks.

The committee will build on the work of the pro-tem committee with a focus on key priority areas. These include improvements to the accessibility and transparency of IP doctor panels, enhancements to the claims pre-authorisation process for treatment, and improving transparency across the board.

"MOH will continue to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to strike a balance between preserving patient choice, while ensuring quality, cost-effective and sustainable care," it said.

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