Thursday, September 4, 2014

MOH HealthAssist (CHAS) scheme

My mum holds a HealthAssist card (Blue CHAS) and also a pioneer generation card. The GP she consulted regarding her blurred vision is under the CHAS scheme.  I was surprised that the GP asked her to see a doctor at the Polyclinic to refer her to a public hospital specialist outpatient clinic (SOC) so that she will be eligible for subsidies.

With all latest changes to MOH Health assistance scheme, a CHAS GP still cannot directly refer a patient to SOC without going through Polyclinic? Isn't CHAS scheme started with the aim to off load the heavy patient numbers thronging Polyclinic? It is also meant to make it more convenient for patients to access healthcare service near to them.  So isn't the whole CHAS scheme a failure if a patient still has to go to the Polyclinic in order to be eligible for subsidy at SOC?

I checked with 2 Polyclinic staff regarding whether if a CHAS GP can refer a CHAS patient to SOC directly. One said 'No' and the other said 'Yes'. When I probed further, both either referred me to MOH or another staff to confirm. Good Grief !

A neighborhood GP under the CHAS scheme is a better choice for elderly patients with poor vision and mobility issues as their process is simple.  The front counter hands out the queue number, does the registration, dispense medicine and accept payment. The GP diagnoses the patient and does the necessary tests.

Whereas at the Polyclinic elderly patients have to negotiate a maze of counters and rooms. We spend more than 2 hours queuing and waiting outside 7 counters/rooms at Polyclinic just to get a SOC appointment :-
1. Queue counter
2. Registration counter
3. BMI and blood pressure testing room
4. Doctor consultation room
5. Vision testing room (and back to consultation room again)
6. Appointment counter for SOC
7. Payment counter

We 'escape' the pharmacy counter as there was no medication. My mum was in a daze at the end of it. I think it was the same for other elderly patients at the Polyclinic. Those who do not have children/relative accompanying them will have terrible time.

Why make patients go the hassle just to get subsidy at SOC due to bureaucratic red tape? Or could it be the CHAS GP and Polyclinic staff are not familiar to the latest policy change ?

Besides, it is highly unproductive and a waste of time for all involved !

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