Is the MOH blaming the rising cost on the old and sick? Didn't the govt implement means testing that would have caused the hospital bills to escalate? Didn't the govt plan to make Singapore a medical hub for rich foreigners causing a strain on our resources and cost to spiral up?
In an earlier posting, I pointed out that the Medisave Minimum Sum has been raised at an annual rate of roughly 7%[earlier posting here] - that translate to a rise of about 30% for 4 years. When I posted that, I speculated that the increase may be linked to rising cost of medical care in Singapore and this is a concern because it is rising much faster than wages. Based on the figures released by the MOH, class C bills have increased 30% in 4 years. If you look at the average bill across all ward classes and hospitals we see a jump of more than 50%. The bills at a few of the hospitals have doubled. Look at the table below:
When you read the table you have to be very careful not to misinterpret the data given which is average and 95 percentile bill figures. For those not familiar with what goes on in a hospital they might think that the figures still look okay because they are under $10k for 95 percentile. A typical hospital handles numerous small cases e.g day surgeries, short stay for a few tests, hospitalization for observation (chest tightness, shortness of breath, pain etc). These small cases overrun the statistics and the very big bills are concentrated on a small number of cases when a person has a serious illness so what they should publish is the average of the top 5% of the bills or average of, say, the top 1% of the bills. Showing the 95 percentile is misleading because it misses the very big serious cases - the type that we are afraid would hit us once in our lifetime. Deficient as it is, the numbers are useful in showing that cost has escalated sharply in the past 4 years.
Minister Khaw had this to say about the massive increase in medical cost:
When Minister Khaw had a heart attack and needed surgery, he paid $8. Many poor people will pay much more than $8 when they get hospitalized. In our system, the richest in our society like Minister Khaw pay less than the poorer members because they can afford better insurance i.e. the less financially well-off have to shoulder heavier burdens when they get sick. Minister Khaw should make the medical coverage he has universal for all Singaporeans. We already have the biggest income gap among developed countries and our healthcare system further exacerbates the inequality in our society.
Jump in hospital bills over past four years[Link]
Most patients are able to pay, have MediShield and Medisave: Minister
THE average bill for a subsidised C-class patient in a public hospital has gone up by between a third on the low end and almost double on the high end, in the four years since 2006.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) puts this down to multiple factors - including a greater number of more ill and older patients, and patients asking for non-subsidised drugs and implants.