Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Art of Subsidized Healthcare....

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)


Anonymous said...

The whole restructuring of former government hospitals is a trick of PAP to make money from the people.

These restructured hospitals are still owned and managed by PAP, through the Ministry of Health.

Their prices are like those of private hospitals; in fact the Health Minister Khaw queried once why some charges in these restructured hospitals were higher than the private hospitals'.

Now who's in charge?

One only gets the govt subsidy in these restructured hospitals if he first has a referral letter from a Polyclinic.

It is to make it difficult for Singaporeans who need urgent attention to get subsidy and end up paying commercial rates, as Lucky did.

This is a government that tries very hard to shirk its responsibility to the people.

The various govt handouts like NSS are also made to be inaccessible to those who need them most - the illiterate, old and infirm. This is because one has to fill up forms to apply for them.

Such is the regime we are labouring under, one that needs to be put down asap. Unfortunately, from all indications, the current slate of working opposition will not be able to accomplish this. It has been absorbed into the PAP system.

Pity Singaporeans.

family man said...

and the subsidy will be pegged at market rate, not at cost of providing the services. As Singapore Govt / Khaw Boon Wan goes on a mission to be a medical hub, attracting foreign dollars, our services will be tuned to servicing foreigners at a higher rate. Then with means testing, out hospitals will get more revenue, adding to GNP, adn finally addind to the performance bonus of our kind minister - Foreign born, Malaysian Khaw Boon Wan - who will enjoy free medical pension when he retires. Just great!!

Anonymous said...

These 2 Singaporean blogs critical of PAP had been closed down this year:


It said at its site on Sunday, January 28, 2007

"Closure of this blog

Yeah, pretty much self-explanatory. This blog is now closed. "


It said on August 25th, 2007:

"Dear Readers,

Recently certain events have prompted me to re-evaluate the role & relevance of the Intelligent Singaporean ..."


As I see it the PAP is not as hands-off in cyberspace as it claims during a recent MM talk. It can still have its cyber watchdogs to do the work e.g. lawyers, PAP bloggers, whatever. A threat of breaking the SBA Actand to be brought to court is enough to scare the shit out of anti-PAP bloggers.

Bloggers-would-be keep your real identity secret and do not attempt to meet up with other bloggers who may well be PAP moles.

My Coffee Milk said...

Why am I not shocked?

Anonymous said...

Is there anything we can do?
Absolutely nothing.

Can't wait to get out of this country.

Anonymous said...

Subsidised healthcare is truly a fine art in our lucky land. It takes art to appear to be providing treatment when no treatment is given, or given only after a suitable lapse of time has passed.

Some years ago I was a subsidised patient of a consultant at KK Hospital for a medical problem. The consultant could not tell me what was the problem except to say that it was not life-threatening. She sent me home with some pills and an appt for a review in a couple of months' time. The pills didn't work and the consultant was not surprised. She sent me back with some other pills and another appt in another 2 months' time. Almost a year and several appointments later, each appt involving an average waiting time of 3 hours or so, and with no improvement whatsoever in my condition, I decided to see a private doctor instead. At the first consultation the doctor diagnosed and explained to me my problem, proposed a course of treatment, and in less than a week the procedure was done. And I was cured.

In an earlier comment I had posted on the experience of my aunt who was a subsidised patient at SGH for her cataract. Her cataract was never operated on because the timing was never right - it was too early and then it was too late and pointless because she was too old.

Sometimes I wonder what proportion of the large crowds in our "public" hospitals and clinics waiting patiently for hours to see the doctor for 5 minutes actually get treatment and how many are merely being bounced along like rubber balls until a suitable lapse of time has passed or they decide to seek private treatment instead. It's a win-win situation for our "public" hospitals - they get to earn a large amount of consultation fees and are seen to be taking care of "subsidised" patients.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, my mother was diagnose with heart problem at a polyclinic. She was given a 3-month wait to see a Government's specialist.

If she will to wait for that appointment, she would have been dead.

Anonymous said...

Its the horrible truth.

Anonymous said...

We should talk more about this. People have not forget the NKF scandal a decade ago. Government is milking from the poor, sick and most venerable people. Its disgusting.

Anonymous said...

We should talk more about this. People have not forget the NKF scandal a decade ago. Government is milking from the poor, sick and most venerable people. Its disgusting.