The SGD1 Million Hospital Bill And The "What-Ifs" Of Caring For My Mum Who Died Of Cancer

"There is a huge difference in speed and expertise for public healthcare and private specialists."

Cover image via Fina Leong

A grieving daughter who recently lost her mother to cancer is facing a SGD1 million bill for medical treatments

Facebook user Fina Leong from Singapore, shared how the loss of a loved one was compounded by the costly price of end-of-life care provided by the hospital.

"SGD1,018,469.29. Healthcare or nightmare?" she wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday, 4 July.

In the post, Leong detailed her mother's journey in battling cancer and how the "lack of the right knowledge" led to the demise of her mother.

She started off by saying that her mother had seen 10 doctors, spending 58 days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a private hospital

Image via Fina Leong

Leong explained that a total of SGD350,000 was spent on medications and over thousand doses of drugs for her mother's cancer treatment.

"One thing for sure is this. If I had known that 18 May would be the last day of her life, I would rather spend SGD350,000 on bringing mum the greatest joyful, loving, happiest, and most comforting experiences, rather than have her go through 58 extremely painful, suffering days immobile in a cold and sterile hospital room," she wrote.

She said that there are alternative treatments that could "help reverse cancer" but the family had limited knowledge such as dosage and frequency of medication required.

"Unfortunately it is mostly trial and error, and in mum's instance, she was unable to consume the dose required to reverse her condition."

Leong said, in hindsight, she should have considered all recommendations instead of being selective and closed-minded

"There were many doctors, alternatives, and nutritional supplements that family and friends recommended. We explored some and missed many."

"However, if we stayed 100% open and explored all alternatives, one of them may have been able to save mum," she said.

She went on to say that her family had underestimated "how urgent cancer was" and "targeted chemotherapy" should have been done sooner.

"We learnt that chemotherapy is very helpful and effective for certain types of cancers. For aggressive treatment as chemo, it needs to be administered as soon as possible while the body still has health reserves and is able to bounce back," she explained.

"We also made the mistake of thinking 'all hospitals are the same'."

"There is a huge difference in speed and expertise for public healthcare and private specialists," she lamented.

According to Leong, her mother was first admitted to a government hospital in January but the cancer was only discovered two weeks later by the doctors. She added an "instant" diagnosis would have been possible if the right test was done.

She stressed that she still believes that Singapore's public healthcare system is still one of the best in the world, but she pointed out that there are too many patients who need the attention of overworked doctors.

"I feel that the entire healthcare ecosystem is such that specialists and private facilities are gravely expensive, and billing is structured in a way to max-out insurance payout in a cold and professionally institutionalised way."

What made Leong's heart turn cold was when she realised that the hospital had referred to her mother as a "customer" and not "patient" on the SGD1 million bill

Photo for illustration purposes only.

Image via Stuff

Leong said that her family was unaware that her mother's insurance coverage had included private specialist treatments.

She said that her family could have sent her mother for private specialist treatment from the beginning.

"Even though these final 58 days in a private hospital came up to an insane bill, we appreciated the speed of response and level of professional expertise of the team of specialists," she said.

Leong said that she misses her mother dearly but finds comfort knowing that her mother is no longer suffering in pain

"At the end of the day, there are a tonne of what-ifs and grey areas. What is right? What is wrong? One thing for sure is this. Nothing can be done now to reverse the situation. Nothing can turn back time. And our hearts will miss mum forever."

"More than ever now, I deeply feel that 'if you do not invest time, money and energy in your health, you will spend your fortune on sickness'."

She ended her post by reminding people to be informed and educated about their medical options as it could be costly to be ignorant.

Leong's post has been shared over 16,000 times at the time of writing. Many netizens have also extended their heartfelt condolences to Leong and her family.

Last month, a father who lost his child shared his experience with a private hospital in Batu Pahat, Johor:

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