It's about money
In December 2003, I met a young lady at a movie preview cum fundraising function. She told me that her father was diagnosed with liver cancer and he had sought treatment from a "Celebrity" doctor. She mentioned that her family had spent a hefty sum but it was well spent because her father's tumour shrank. From my experience, I realized that most patients would also receive favourable results just from their treatment administered at the public hospitals. I felt sorry for this young lady who thought that the expensive magic bullet was actually worth that much. As time passes, she will realize that the tumour cannot be contained as it is a case of advanced liver cancer. In days to come, more expensive treatment will be recommended. I am worried that her family will end up like many families who have had to switch to cheaper medical institutions for treatment because their financial resources were depleted by the initial hefty medical bills.
Certainly, this is wasteful, and I feel apologetic that CancerStory.com has failed in its mission to educate patients and their caregivers to be more careful in their choice of treatment. However, there is nothing much I can do, as I always have to respect the choice of treatment decided by the patients and their families.
Indeed, I hesitated to pen this write-up for a long time because I was not sure if it would be helpful. However, after reading a letter on "Why great doctors deserve top dollar" in the Straits Times Forum of 27 April 2004, I decided to share the experiences of some cancer patients with their doctors in Singapore. Despite that, I still believe that most doctors are compassionate and caring. In addition, I also posted a write-up on Dr Midas and his Golden Touch. Please click here to read it.
Sharing of Some Cancer Patients' Experiences
Update (25 April 2007) :
In 2007, the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) has no choice but to withdraw SMA Fee Guidelines after some legal advisers confirmed that it may be in contravention of the Competition Act passed in 2006. SMA wrote to Ministry of Health and the Competition Commission of Singapore for guidance. You can read the letters and SMA's media briefing at www.sma.org.sg.
With the withdrawal of SMA Fee Guidelines, it is likely that some opportunist-oncologists will increase their medical fees. Hence cancer patients who are already paying hefty medical fees to private oncologists must be prepared to pay higher fees.