Now the govt says that means testing is meant to help the poor. See how caring this govt is, it is always helping the poor. The poor who are now already entitled to class "C" ward will still be getting class "C" ward when means testing is in place so how does means testing help them? Means testing helps the poor by making the middle class pay more for their medical care and denying the middle class subsidies when they are sick. Yes, the govt is again helping the poor by impoverishing the middle class when they are sick. I guess this will help to close the income gap by making the middle income poorer in their time of sicknes and need. So they are helping the poor not by giving them more subsidy but by denying the middle income folks their subsidy.
The cost of medical care is rising much faster than GDP and per capita income growth. Much of it due to the govt initiatives to turn Singapore into a medical hub for the rich in the region - the Indonesian millionaires, Myanmar junta leaders, Saudi oil sheiks etc. PM Lee's own sister explained that the booming private hospital sector has caused doctors to leave the public hospitals - the pay difference is huge and doctors are only human. This causes cost of medical care to spiral up. Singapore served 410,000 foreign patients last year and PM Lee explained that no one not even Myanmar junta leaders is turned away as long as they have money because:
"Somebody who is sick, he wants to come to Singapore, he needs treatment and you're telling me that I shouldn't treat him because he is not a good man? It goes against the Hippocratic oath of doctors"- PM Lee on why Burmese Junta leaders are treated in Singapore.
PM Lee respects the Hippocratic Oath but I'm sure if a penniless Ethiopian cancer patient arrives in Singapore, our medical hub will just route him back to Ethiopia with his cancer.
While allowing the cost of medical care to rise, the govt realised it still needs to subsidise Singaporeans which undermines its motive to make more money as a medical hub. For years they have made Singaporeans purchase more and more insurance to pay for rising medical cost, but still Singaporeans can opt for subsidised class "C" wards at hospitals. The next strategy is to make people wait longer for subsidised treatment. It seems Singaporeans are quite patient when it comes to saving money - they will fire off a few letters to the Straits Times forum but are still willing to wait for subsidized care (dental appointment at polyclinics is now arranged 6-9 months ahead). Means testing is a way to deny subsidies outright. If you can afford a $300K HDB flat, what is the big deal about paying $100K for your medical bill....if you don't have the cash, they will work out an instalment plan for you.
/The poor is so lucky in Singapore. The govt has found another way to help them which is to allow them to keep their subsidies. There is no point taking away the subsidies from the poor anyway since they are already having immense difficulty paying for the "subsidized" rate...so it makes no difference to the govt whether they keep their subsidies or not. However, the middle income will be quite juicy for the govt to "squeeze"....and squeeze they will, this time in their time of greatest need when they are sick and desperate for treatment.
Singaporeans are so lucky to have such a caring govt that is always thinking of new ways to help the poor.
PM Lee suggests hospitals implement means testing to help the poor
By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 29 October 2007 1926 hrs
PM Lee suggests hospitals implement means testing to help the poor
SINGAPORE : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has suggested that hospitals implement means testing to help the lower income group. This is to determine how much patients should be subsidised, based on their means. Mr Lee said this is a sensitive issue and the Health Ministry (MOH) will be consulting unions on this. He was addressing over 1,000 unionists at the NTUC Delegates conference on Monday. Good and affordable healthcare has been one important issue facing Singaporeans. While many initiatives are being rolled out to address this, PM Lee told unionists that subsidies will still be needed to help the lower income. To ensure that subsidies are given only to those who need them most, hospitals may need to implement means testing. PM Lee said: "It's not easy to do; it's a very sensitive (issue) and the Ministry of Health is studying this carefully. The idea is there, but how do we implement it fairly and simply without making hospital care unaffordable for the middle income group. "Once MOH has some firmer ideas, (Health Minister) Khaw Boon Wan and his team will consult the unions on what to do and how to go about doing this." Mr Lee assured the labour movement that the government will always keep in close touch with the unions on all major issues. Going forward, he said the government must now make sure that workers benefit from the growth and vitality of the economy. But the government cannot assume this would come about automatically. And in some cases, some special attention or action would be required. Special attention to the economy has helped it grow 7.6 percent in the first half of the year, according to Mr Lee. For the whole year, growth could possibly hit the top end of the government's forecast of 7-8 percent. But the current turbulence in global financial markets remains a risk factor. Turning to the booming property market in Singapore, both in the prime office space and residential segments, Mr Lee noted that the Urban Redevelopment Authority has withdrawn the Deferred Payment Scheme for property purchases last Friday. "This step will help to dampen excessive speculation and to inject some reality into the market. But more fundamental than the ups and downs of the property cycle, the government is committed to keeping housing affordable for Singaporeans," said the Prime Minister. Mr Lee assured them that the government will continue to monitor trends closely and take further action if necessary. The aim is to make sure that the property market stays in balance over the long term. Mr Lee also stressed that Singapore is successful only after difficult adjustments over the years. He said: "Because we have taken these steps, each one difficult but each one necessary, we have moved forward together. We have stayed competitive, stayed ahead of other countries, our neighbours and we have prospered. "Why have we been able to make these changes? It's not that other countries don't know they are necessary, but we have moved one step faster than others. And one major reason we have been able to do this is because of the strong support of the labour movement." With the government, workers and employers working together as a winning formula, Mr Lee stressed that Singapore must keep on adjusting and adapting in order to stay ahead. - CNA /ls