Forum: Differentiation Over Treatment Fees Could Do More Harm Than Good

12/11/2021

I refer to the announcement that unvaccinated patients must pay for their own medical treatment when they come down with Covid-19 (Covid-19 patients who choose not to be jabbed to foot medical bills, Nov 9).

While I fully understand the rationale of this in terms of getting more people vaccinated from the public health policy point of view, I would urge caution in taking this approach.

This is because doctors understand that each patient is on a journey of understanding his illness and will be able to cope better with time.

I have had lupus patients who do not follow the correct treatment and return with severe illness, needing treatment in the intensive care unit or dialysis. Many of these patients eventually come to terms with their illness, follow the treatment plan and do well in the end.

We have seen the same thing in those who were unvaccinated. Many have changed their minds and received their vaccines.

Using withdrawal of full payment for Covid-19 infection as a tool to persuade more people to get vaccinated has its pitfalls.

The main concern is whether unvaccinated patients will be reluctant to see a doctor because of cost issues and timely treatment will be delayed or withheld, leading to organ damage or death.

If that were to happen, then a well-intentioned policy would have done more harm than good.

Leong Keng Hong (Dr)