Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Means Testing Details Out!!!

"Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has suggested that hospitals implement means testing to help the lower income group", ChannelNewsAsia, 29 Oct 2007

"Yes I know, the GST hike also helps the poor", Lucky Tan

Details about means testing is out. Very interesting. With the income gap rising and the poor experiencing stagnant wages while the cost of medical care goes up, you might think that the poor will need higher level of subsidy than they currently receive. Means testing is to help the poor but the poor still get the same subsidy under means testing while everyone else ends up paying more. I think it helps the poor feel better knowing that everyone else pays more.

Why is the cost of medical care rising?
The cost of medical care is rising much faster than 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.

Means Testing - the means to pay for what?

Means testing is done at the time of admission when the final bill is unknown. How do they know if the family has the means to pay for the final bill? Given that hospital bills are large sometimes amounting to 6 digits for serious illnesses, how can they ascertain if you have the means to pay.

Insurance leaves many holes

A large number of children born with congenital health problems are left out. People who cannot afford insurance or have pre-existing conditions are left out.

Means Testing at a time of Inflation

Since the cost of everything else has gone up, you thought maybe means testing should be held back so that people (even those in the middle class) can be spared from rising costs when they are seriously ill. No such luck. Despite the $6B surplus from last year's budget, means testing cannot wait. Yes, our govt is very compassionate, they can't wait to help the poor.


Anonymous said...

embedded in H8 of the straits times - Low Thia Kiang crossed swords with Minister Khaw. Must watch the CNA video if it is there. I cannot believe it, a Malaysian born cabinet minister pushing this though, thus helping to raise the level of inflation in Singapore a few more notches. I guess for the middle class who cannot afford bread, they can continue to eat cake. What about the silver haired folds who are cash rich but staying in terrace houses? Tough,

yamizi said...

And soon everyone will forget about Mas Selamat and the $6B+ surplus 'cos everyone will be too busy and concerned with the medical mean testing.

How apt is the timing!

Anonymous said...

One mega movie after another at your local cinema 'Parliament House'!

Singaporeans are so LUCKY.

Anonymous said...

Dear Lucky

I wouldn't be too concerned about means testing if I were you. A close relative of mine was sent home from a gahmen hospital with panadol on her 1st visit and died in 3 weeks from cancer even though she did eventually end up in class A.

Your concern should be that parkway\raffles medical is not building hospitals fast enough.

Means testing is inefficient and a waste of public funds. gahmen should remove class A&B and bump up the price of C to a level they deem reasonable.

btw,your friend Bart has a good & balanced post here-> http://perspectiveunlimited.blogspot.com/2008/02/pressures-of-excessive-do-goodness-even.html


Anonymous said...

Loss of S$8 billions and Counting

I have watched this PAP game before. At one time it introduced and passed so many controversial and complex bills in Parliament that no one could possibly follow.

PAP is at it again but the current policies are not plentiful enough to confuse, so PAP introduces the Mas Selamat story, by engaging vast national resources - press, security forces, etc - to sensationalize it.

This is a gov that sells out its own people not only in terms of domestic policies but from all indications already sold out Singapore's very sovereignty to the West.

Otherwise, no one can explain that while other big investors were avoiding like poison the failing banks of Merrill Lynch, Barclays, UBS and Citibank, PAP was pumping into them countless $billions.

I am not saying those banks are worthless ultimately ; just that the timing was utterly wrong because they were at the start of their meltdown and hence their prices were far from attractive.

[ In fact Barclays stake - between S$3 to S$7 billions - was bought just before the subprime meltdown, showing that it was all properly scheduled by the money masters.

In 2006, Soros "predicted" in a talk in Singapore that the subprime crisis will occur in mid 2007. Then it really happened as he said. Tell me, how could he be so accurate unless it was all planned by these money masters? ]

Anyway, GIC and Temasek moves were definitely not a case of judicious investment but one in which PAP was under instruction from its secret master to prop them up.

These banks' shares have since fallen by 25% to 35%. With over USD30b invested, I moderately estimate that USD6b or S$8b of the taxpayers' and CPF savings had since been wiped out.

And according to market analysts, banks like Citibank will eventually be reduced to a shadow of its former self. This means far greater loss to come for GIC and Temasek.

In the meantime, while the national coffers are being emptied, why, just keep squeezing the people more through domestic policies : CPF Life, mean testing, more ERP charges ...

This is the sad story of a modern Count Dracula sucking up the blood of its people.

Anonymous said...

this is the goverment that indicates that rising inflation is not its doing, but with means testing poeple will pay more. I wish Low Thia Kiang speech will be translated into English - my Chinese is not so good. I guess if all male citizens are required to do NS regardless of wealth, the govt should provide the same minimal health care for her citizens, regardless of income. What next? Graduated subsidy for public education to curb rising school fees, bus fare, MRT? Like GST, this is the start to a slippery road.

Anonymous said...

PM Lee says 'it goes against the Hippocratic Oath of doctors' if they do not treat the Burmses Junta leaders. Seriously, I doubt the Hippocratic Oath mean anything to 'most' of the doctors nowadays, just like saying that Ministers are in it for the call of serving the people.

young-pap said...

We should have been at the airport yesterday!@

Anonymous said...

"Means" Testing no good?...perhaps it juz need some re-naming


His suggestion which brought chuckles in the House - was to rename the Class C ward to Class 'E' - as in the economy class on planes

Anonymous said...

:: The Sham of Orderliness ::

In Kaisuland
Many seek for stability
Even though they may complain endlessly about their rulers
They still appreciate there is peace and order

But this is just the immediate and apparent
They know not what they ought to know
Their future is not assured
By the greedy policies of rulers
Their hard-earned life savings are being exploited
And the national coffers are being emptied
For purposes they know even less

In Kaisuland
Opposition are quai quai
They fear that if they make too much noise
They will end up penniless or imprisoned
Some even behave like rulers wannabes
Reacting aggressively to the first signs of criticism
And still expect the people to support them

Support the dissenters certainly will
But admire them not for their rulers-wannabe way

If more opposition could just go into Parliament
Rulers and opposition checking on each other
Then the people will not have to worry so much

The seeming order in Kaisuland is but a mere sham
The fearful effect of the vicious hand of a megalomaniac

There is no stability without transparency and accountability
Such stability is but a cover-up
A silencing of the lambs led to the slaughter

Anonymous said...

i would like to see the electorates become judges of their own affairs( also held accountable for its consequences) and judges of common interests or any other matters that may be brought to the attention of a free community.

that would mean slowly dissolving the powers of the house and shifting the responsibility to the people.

the whole process will probably require reeducation of the people to raise their level of social consciousness and conscience to the...

...diminishing/demission of autocratic powers( of crappy opposition or what have you too) etc.

Anonymous said...

:: Voters can be our own worst enemies ::

A friend who was strongly critical of the PAP said to me: "Why is the opposition hardly reacting on the various controversial PAP policies and national issues. This is so exasperating. The opposition is useless. In the next GE let's not support PAP nor the opposition. Let's just void, invalidate our votes".

I pondered over his statement carefully and realize such a move can only harm oneself. PAP will be quite happy if people do that because the opposition won't be gaining grounds or might even be losing grounds.

But then again why vote for the opposition when they are not proving themselves as aforesaid?

I think the larger rationale to vote in more opposition should be that the people need a multi-party Parliament and not because one happens to believe in the opposition.

As regards the issue of competence of the opposition, I would think that given a competitive multi-party Parliamentary environment, it will eventually sort itself out.

Many Singaporeans including myself often laugh at how rowdily parliamentarians in other countries can behave.

Well if parliamentarians can feel so strongly about their causes, then may be we can rest more at ease, knowing someone is working hard for us inside parliament.

But with the kind of parliament we are having now in Singapore, there is a real cause for worry.

So lets' not shoot ourselves in the foot. Lets work with what is already there, the Parliamentary process however diluted or perverted it has become thanks to the PAP dominance.

In times past, many people have to fight, suffer horribly and die in wars just to remove a feudal dictator, sometimes only to be replaced by another.

The history of man is filled with the blood and cries of human beings who suffer under oppression from tyrants and find it extremely hard to overthrow it.

However we have inherited from the British a democractic system without going through all these troubles, a system which is basically still there. It is just that our people have for various reason failed to make good use of it.

Let's not make another serious mistake by voiding our votes. Give the votes to the opposition for the sake of having a multi-party Parliament.

I have thought before that Parliament is also fixed up by PAP to cripple the opposition MPs through various ways. But then if we have not gone the first step, i.e. putting more opposition candidates in parliament, we cannot even think so far.

What is even more important than having more oppostion MPs is to let PAP know that the people themselves are ready to confront it, to stand up to it.

Anonymous said...

Those who voted for PAP either believes in them or are ignorant. Losers who void their votes are castrating themselves and fully deserves to be replaced by FTs.