PAP Government increase healthcare burden on poor patients in class-C wards

Old medishield deductible amount

Medishield deductibles for class B2 and C wards will be increased $500 dollars from March 2012 onward. Presently, class B2 patients pay $1500 and class C patients pay $1000 for the deductibles. The 2 subsidized wards are usually taken up by the poorer Singaporeans while the richer ones would go for Class A or to the private hospitals. A deductible is a compulsory cash/Medisave payment a patient has to pay, to which the remaining amount will be 90% paid for by the national health insurance scheme Medishield.

 

 

Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong claims that this increase in loading for the poor will help to “keep premiums affordable and help Medishield to focus on larger bills”. The former Minister of Manpower who allowed the influx of foreign labor to depress salaries in his previous term, did not explain what amount is a “large” bill. The statutory board that is entrusted to manage Medishield, the CPF Board, did not disclose the fund amount pooled from the premiums paid for currently and the claims amount to justify the lesser benefits Minister Gan proposed. Unlike private insurers, the government insurance scheme sees no need for transparency and accountability even though it is funded by Singapore’s taxpayers money.

It is equally baffling why the sick and poor are made to pay more when those in Class B1 and above are in a better position to be charged a higher deductible. Singaporean poor are here again made to foot the bill for the rich.

 

Acknowledging that the increase will burden poorer Singaporeans, the millionaire minister defended that the PAP government will give ad hoc Medisave top ups ranging from $50 to $400 to the elderly and low income workers through the GST Voucher Scheme and Workfare. Under the PAP government, healthcare subsidies have become a voucher-system as US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proposed. Unlike Romney’s proposal, President Obama mandated that every US citizen, even those with pre-existing conditions, will be insured and that insurers will not be allowed to profit above 20% from premiums. Unlike in the US, Singapore’s elderly and poor who were hospitalized landed themselves in long term debts and some, into bankruptcy. Government hospitals have resorted to hiring private credit companies to recover their debts, who may resort to a lawsuit that could sue a poor person into bankruptcy.

 

The PAP government has always promoted their 3M system – Medisave, Medishield and Medifund – and boasted that healthcare costs are kept affordable to both the people and the country. Currently, the Singapore government spends only 4% of the GDP on healthcare, which is less than a quarter that of the US and other OECD nations. Former NMP Dr Kanwaljit Soin and many medical practitioners in Singapore have strongly criticized the PAP government for spending too little on healthcare[Source] and over-burdening the Singapore’s poor and elderly. The PAP government however think otherwise by increasing the least on healthcare spending over the 5 year period from 2006[Source].

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