You won't know what it is like until you get sick or someone close gets sick.
It is so unfair that the PAP govt has to provide subsidized healthcare to Singaporeans. The PAP govt has better use for the money like spending on defense, corporate tax cuts and iconic buildings - subsidising the healthcare of Singaporeans results in a misallocation - treating sick Singaporeans generate no returns for Singapore Inc. However, it is a problem to tell Singaporeans that the grand plan is to reduce subsidy to zero - squeezing sick Singaporeans to pay for as much of their healthcare as possible is not a popular idea given the rising cost of healthcare. Other means have to be used to take away this subsidy from Singaporeans........here is my story.
Last year an evil rice seller sold me rice with a grain of sand inside. I broke my tooth on the grain of sand and started bleeding. Needing some kind of immediate dental treatment, I called the polyclinic. They told me the earliest appointment possible was weeks away, I had to wait even if my tooth was bleeding. Somehow I remembered that there was this beautiful building near Chinatown emblazoned with the words "National Dental Center". I figuredNATIONAL meant that all Singaporeans could get some kind of subsidized dental treatment there. I got there at 3pm and the place was empty....looked like not many people in Singapore needed dental treatment. When I walked up to the clerk, she asked me where was my "referral letter". No referral letter no subsidized dental treatment....and guess how to get this "referral letter"? I had to get it by seeing the dentist at the polyclinic....Gee my tooth was bleeding and I had a puzzle to solve. Without this letter I was told I would be charged the same rates as private clinics. Since the center was empty, I won't have to wait - I thought I should just get treated and 'get it over with'. A rookie dentist saw me told me I needed to get the tooth extracted after looking at the X-ray. He said sorry 3 times during the extraction as he struggled to pull out my molar. He eventually got it out, I paid the market rate for the treatment....and learned an important truth about subsidized healthcare.
The govt plans to reduce the amount of subsidized healthcare available. This can seen in form of longer queues at polyclinics and the limited capacity allocated to subsidized care. The polyclinic near my home has 2 dentists to take care of the whole estate! For me, it was just a tooth - $70 solved the problem. But what is it like for people with a more serious illness? They are told that they will not be accepted at a public hospital if they want subsidized care but will be treated if they are admitted as private or unsubsidized patients.
You might get all mad about this but becareful you might not be able to get subsidized care for your madness:
Nov 5, 2007
Parents' dilemma over mental patient
MY DAUGHTER has suffered from depression for a number of years. Two weeks ago, we went to see a polyclinic doctor to get a referral to see a psychiatrist at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). We were told this was not possible. The reason given by TTSH - it has too many subsidised psychiatric patients - is unacceptable.
My daughter was asked to go back to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for treatment. She has been there for a number of years. Most of the time, as parent and caregiver, I have to ensure she follows up on her treatment. She intensely dislikes travelling the long distance because of lethargy arising from her illness. I have to spend many frustrating hours persuading her to go to IMH but she always resists. It is frustrating to take her there, even by taxi which is costly. Often, the parent has to go to IMH on her behalf. Besides the patient, the caregiver is also under tremendous stress. My daughter prefers to go to a nearer place. Because of the urgency and seriousness of her condition two years ago, I took her to IMH for treatment without referral. Hence, at the moment she is still a full-paying, non-subsidised patient at IMH.
Does it mean TTSH has stopped taking subsidised patients? She will be accepted as a full-paying patient. But she has not been in full employment since she graduated and came down with depression. Only her parents as caregivers can take care of her, but what if we are not around?
The healthy minds campaign is on, but it defeats the purpose as there are sufferers out there besides my daughter.
Catherine Tham Kuen (Mdm)