Two dental clinics in Singapore which were under police probe for making Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) claims for consultations and treatments that were not performed have concluded with both clinics being closed down.

In July last year, the Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade had their Chas accreditation suspended, which meant they could no longer get government subsidies for their patients.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) claimed it was because "both clinics have continuously made claims that are non-compliant with MOH rules and guidelines. This includes a number of claims for procedures which, based on the audit findings, were not performed".

Five clinics have been making baseless Chas claims

MOH has also filed a police report for possible criminal offences and clinics could have continued operating until and unless charges are levelled against them.

Instead, one of the two dentists who set up the clinics, Dr Teo Eu Gene, has joined the FDC Dental Group and works at its Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio clinics while the other dentist, Dr Cheng Jean-Lynn, is currently unemployed, according to the Singapore Dental Council.

Recently, MOH has said it planned to take three general practitioner (GP) clinics off unless a satisfactory explanation is provided for their Chas claims for consultations and treatments that were not performed.

The doctors involved will be referred to the Singapore Medical Council, the medical professional watchdog.

Transparency of medical fees to be instilled

The Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong has assured the public that steps have been taken to improve the transparency of medical billing.

Patients who have gone to a Chas clinic this year should receive receipts that have an itemised breakdown of treatment fees and subsidies received, he said. Chas clinics have also received an updated set of guidelines on claims criteria.

"We hope that such improvements will help to make clinic charges and Chas subsidies clearer to patients and doctors," said Mr Gan.

Between 2013 and 2015, the MOH received about 300 complaints, about incorrect billing or high fees. Since then, relevant authorities have worked to tighten the system, ensuring that all Chas clinics provided itemised bills from the beginning of this year, especially because a large sum of money is involved.

Mr Gan said that Chas subsidies amounted to SGD169 million last year, up from SGD167 million in 2015. MIMS

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