I wanted to post this yesterday but Blogspot was down.
I read with sadness the plight of a cancer patient in The Online Citizen. Here is the case in detail [Why cancer patients are not subsidised by the govt]. The story tells us the enormous financial stress put on cancer patients and their families. Mdm Choi was diagnosed with incurable myeloma and needed medication to stay alive and improve her quality of life. The cancer treatment was not subsidized and she was not allowed to use Medisave which was her own money.Only after "haggling" with officials she was allowed to use her own Medisave for medicatiion which costs $500 per pill and chemotheraphy cost $1000 per session. Her Medisave ran out of money and she had to tap on her son's Medisave. As she could use only $450 from Medisave per day the amount of oustanding bills mounted as treatment can cost several thousand per day. When the bills mounted, credit collection company on behalf of SGH would harass them for payment.
“They’re like a licensed loan shark” - Mdm Choi [Link]
This is not an isolated case. Many Singaporeans face such hurdles and financial stress when they get cancer. A few months ago, Singapore's 1980s' cultural icon, singer, Yue Lei passed away in Malacca where he was seeking treatment for cancer. He sold his home in Singapore to pay for his cancer treatment at Mahkota Hospital in Malacca[Link]. Singapore's olympic hero, Tan Howe Liang, incurred a medical debt of $100,000 for his wife's breast cancer treatment[Link]. A donor helped him to pay for the bill. Tan Howe Liang earns $1000 per month working at a gym yet there is little financial aid available for his wife's treatment.
This is the real state of healthcare in Singapore - not the rosy affordable 3M picture painted by Minister Khaw. During the election campaign, an senior consultant, Prof Paul Tambyah from NUH spoke up at SDP's lunch time rally about healthcare financing and he paints a true picture of the situation : Link.
The PAP govt has kept its own expediture down by passing the rising costs of healthcare on to Singaporeans. Our govt expediture as a % of GDP is the lowest among developed countries. It is less than one third the average expediture of other govts. As the govt aspires Singapore to be a medical hub for the rich in the region, costs goes up (double digit per year) as capacity does not expand fast enough to meet demand. Specialists and experienced surgeon are drawn to the "for profit" medical hub where they can make much more money doing less work. The increased cost is then passed on to the sick and their families by means testing and subsidy cuts.
The govt says it is not financially prudent to do more to help the sick. However, to win more votes at Ang Moh Kio GRC, the PAP promised to build an artificial river running through Bishan Park that cost $1.2B[Link]. Yes, $1.2B for pork barrel but they cannot do more for cancer patients. There are 8000 new cancer patients per year. Over the next 5 years, there will be 40,000 Singaporeans who will be diagnosed with cancer. $1.2B works out to be $30,000 for every cancer patient for the next 5 years. The PAP instead chooses to use this money to build an artificial river to buy political support (after it did so many things wrong in the past 5 years). This a govt that has lost its morality. This is a govt that has lost its way.