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$1000 fee for 120-word medical report!?

Three foreign workers requesting for copies of their own medical records were charged up to $1,000 by an orthopedic surgeon in private practice, according to two help groups Transient Workers Count Too (“TWC2”) and Healthserve, and a law firm (HOH Law Corporation). The fees charged by specialists at restructured hospitals for similar reports are usually only one fifth of that, between $160 to $200.

The surgeon involved is Dr Kevin Kip from the Singapore Sports and Orthopaedic Clinic at Gleneagles Medical Centre, who cannot be reached for comment. TWC2 first highlighted the issue after helping a Chinese worker earlier this year who had received an invoice of $1,016.50 for a report on his fractured thumb. Subsequently, the amount was lowered to $428.00 after multiple calls made to the clinic and the Singapore Medical Council (“SMC”).

​ Similarly, HOH Law Corporation, which was making a compensation claim on behalf of another Chinese worker, highlighted that the 120-word report received by their client had been charged the same amount of $1,016.50. In another case handled by Healthserve, another Chinese worker was charged $856.00 for a 160-word report.

​ Medical reports usually state details of a worker’s injury and would aid workers seeking second medical opinions or lodging compensation claims for worksite injuries, especially if accidents had not been reported to the Ministry of Manpower yet.

As Healthserve executive director Mr Tan Shin Yong noted, medical documents as such should be made available to low-wage migrant workers at lower costs since these are important documents which are essentially records of their own medical conditions. In a recent judgment, the Court of Appeal upheld the SMC’s position that there should be an “ethical limit” put on fees, even if there are currently no laws or regulations on how much a doctor can charge for medical reports.

​ Reported by: Radha Basu (Senior Correspondent)

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