Happy New Year.
We all heard the reassuring words of our PM who said yesterday there will be help for those in need in 2009. Coming from someone who said that the GST hike was meant to help the poor we all know what to expect in times of trouble. In fact the 1st gift from the PAP has arrived today. It is a gift for the most needy Singaporeans - those who are sick. Today means testing will be implemented at all govt hospitals.
I have pointed out that it is interesting how the govt can means test you without taking into consideration what your final medical bill is. If you examine the means testing criteria it is based on income OR housing. So if you lost your income due to retrenchments, they can disqualify you from affordable care because of where you stay. Just to get an idea what medical bills are like these days, you just have to look at the case of the pregnant maid who had a pre-matured baby who was treated in one of our govt hospitals - the total bill was $67,000 for a 27 day stay at hospital. Well, you might think that for Singaporeans the medical insurance takes care of that....that is a misconception. Our system does not take care of newborns with congenital health problems or are simply born pre-mature. A baby born 2-3 months pre-mature can result in a bill of $100K-250K and this is not covered by insurance. But this is one of the cracks in our system - insurance with its payment limits, types of treatment etc will mean more people falling through the cracks. Also, many people will be uninsured because they are too old, have pre-existing conditions, have no income etc. Just look at what happened to the US system which was based on insurance.
What has been driving up medical costs? Last year hundreds of thousands of foreigners came to Singapore for medical treatment because Singapore has been marketed as a medical hub to the rich in the Middle East and around the region. That strained our capacity and drove the cost of medical care up. The PAP's solution of this problem is to make Singaporeans pay more when they are sick.
So this is the 1st gift from the PAP govt in 2009 and it is to those who will get sick in 2009. How's that for a great compassionate start to 2009....