A few days ago, I had a minor operation done at Day Surgery Centre at the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. Usually, it is good news if we don’t have to experience the healthcare system of our country. It was my first taste of our much discussed healthcare system.
For the benefit of all, I will provide a quick walk-through on the process.
To get a referral to the hospital for my minor problem, I first headed to the polyclinic to visit the doctor which confirmed the medical condition. I was given a choice of hospitals to choose from, along the estimated appointment date. The polyclinic staff tried to make the appointment but couldn’t get through to the hospital. I was sent home and would be notified via phone once the appointment was done.
Turns out the earliest appointment I can get is in 2 months time! Nothing can do about this, so I patiently waited till the appointment date and headed down to the hospital.
The first visit is merely a consultation and the doctor would simply confirm the issue and offer you options with explanations of each. My condition is medically harmless but it did cause some inconveniences to my daily life. Therefore, I opted for surgery.
After the consultation with the doctor, I waited for the second consultation on the same day. There is a nurse or medical officer who would advise of the financial charges that are applicable which gave an estimation of the final charges and whether it is claimable via Medisave or Medishield.
The following is the breakdown of the charges involved, after subsidies.
- Day Surgery Facility Charge – $25.00
- Consumables – $102.22
- Laboratory Investigations – $75.60
- Surgical Procedure – $111.53
The estimated final bill is therefore $314.35. (GST absorbed by Singapore Government). It is
not claimable via my integrated Aviva MyShield plan’s RIDER as it was a minor outpatient day surgery. This amount is 100% payable via Medisave which meant zero cents out of my pocket.
The actual appointment for the surgery was two weeks later. I showed up early on my appointment but it didn’t make a difference. The waiting area was mostly empty and I was ushered in 15-minutes after my designated appointment time.
I was brought to another waiting area (the chairs were like those you have for blood donations) where all my particulars and details was double and triple-confirmed. You know, so that the right operation was done at the right place for the right person.
I had forgotten that I shouldn’t wear my contact lens (even for day surgeries) and was given a free contact lens case to store my contact lens. So, I was pretty much “blind” from this point onwards.
After more waiting (can only hear the TV but couldn’t see haha), I was directly to the washroom to change into my “gown”. This first layer was pretty much like wearing a jacket backwards, so my back could be easily exposed. The second layer was like a kimono/bathrobe. Also, I was given slippers to change into, plus a bag to keep my valuables and sealed, only to be returned to me after surgery.
Then, more waiting. Finally, the surgeon (I think, since I can’t even see the face clearly) came and checked my particulars again. Then, he marked out the location on my back for the incision. Then, more waiting, and I was finally brought into the operating theatre (OT).
It was cool, sort of like what you see in TV programs or movies. The OT was cold, but I was well taken care of with drapes and stuff so it was actually quite comfy. And music was playing. Oddly calm and soothing. There was probably 3 or 4 nursing staff in addition to the surgeon.
I have to add, the service was great. Every single thing they did was explained to me so I knew exactly what was happening. BP cuff and the index finger clip thing was set up.
The rest was just following instructions. Lie down, blah blah, local anesthesia – which was fun, because I get to hear their conversation. From time to time, a nursing staff would check on me to see if everything was OK. The main surgeon was probably less experienced and I could literally hear another surgeon guiding and advising him on what to do. Heck, it was only my back and I didn’t really care about the scar. It would be a different story if I was a girl!
The actual procedure took probably 15 to 30 minutes. Once done, I was offered bread and Milo for a short period of monitoring just to make sure I’m OK and didn’t faint or something. I got changed, wore my contact lens, retrieved my valuables, and was ready to go home!
There was no medication, and no payment to be made. I was presented again with the estimated bill which would be 100% paid from Medisave. Follow-up appointment in two weeks time. Meanwhile, there is no need to change the dressing once it began to come off. Sutures are “self-dissolving” so there is no need to remove them, either.
From start till end, it was a fairly positive experience considering that it was a simple procedure. There were pre-op and post-op calls as well for the customer service aspect.
The two months wait was a bit long for my liking, but thankfully mine was not a serious issue. I could imagine the anxiety for others if they have a medical condition that is more urgent and yet have to endure a long wait. I liked the transparency when it came to costs, and how they tried to simplify both the medical and financial aspects of what could be a scary event for the average Joe so that it was manageable.
Thanks to my CPF Money That Keeps Growing, this small sum of $300+ is extremely affordable.