SINSEHS are feeling the squeeze as growing demand and rising production costs push up the prices of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Some have already passed the increases on to their patients, and the trend of rising rates looks set to continue. In its monthly update of the Consumer Price Index, the Department of Statistics reported that healthcare costs in January were 5% higher than the month before, due mainly to higher charges of TCM practitioners.
The 1,678 registered Chinese physicians run about 800 clinics here, and see about 12% of all outpatients.
They are free to charge what they want because the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board regulates the conduct and ethics of sinsehs, but not their business practices.
The price increases are unavoidable, said some physicians.
The cost of Chinese proprietary medicine – herbs that are processed into powder, pills or fluids – has risen by between 5% and 8%, said Lee Tiong Sa, acting chairman of the Singapore Traditional Chinese Medicine Organisations Committee, an umbrella body for TCM importers and retailers.
Prices of some herbs have also gone up because of greater demand. For example, cordyceps, a herb said to strengthen the body’s immune system, cost about $100 (RM220) for 375gm two years ago. It can now cost up to $200 (RM440) depending on quality.– The Straits Times/Asia News Network