Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Quite incredible how this type of incidents can happen and bureaucracy cannot make exceptions. Its amazing people apply rules like robots and some of these rules are so obscure that people neither expect they exist or can possibly guess they are there. Yet, when they violate them unintentionally, the penalty can be hefty - in this case, it cost the woman a new flat in the SERS programme. She was happily and legally living in her flat until the govt implemented SERS for hlock triggering a chain of events that left her without a home and under compensated for her flat - she was paid $192K for her flat based on 2004 housing price and disallowed from buying the replacement flat under SERS. The whole idea of SERS was to knock off old flats so that better and taller flats can built in their place - it was supposed to be a win-win for residents who get to buy a new flat in the nearby location and HDB gets to reuse the land more efficiently. Really amazing how obscure rules can get in the way of the basic principle of SERS and cause people to lose their homes.
Last year I wrote about this incident of a fuming Singaporean who called up the radio station to explain his plight and how he ended up homeless. Remember how the rental flat system ran into problems because HDB failed to meet demands for these flats - the waiting time was more than 1.5 years at one point. To solve this problem, HDB announced a set of rules to kick people who shouldn't be in the queue out[Link].
".....prevent abuse of rental flats include a rule that bars those who have sold their HDB flats in the open market from applying for a rental flat from HDB for 30 months after the date of sale. Some sellers, said Mr Chan, make profits from the sale of the flats." - Straits Times Report.
The caller needed a rental flat because he ran into financial difficulties and was forced to sell his flat. After paying his creditors he had nothing left. He had a low monthly income of about $1000.and was the sole breadwinner Although he was poor and had no money, he was barred from applying for a rental flat for 30 months....when he becomes eligible to apply he may have to wait for another year so that is a total of 3 years....how does he house his family in the meantime? He appealed several times and went to see his MP but can't get his problem solved. The basic idea of providing rental flats is to house those who are so poor they cannot afford to own a home - yet the HDB created a rule to knock out people whom the scheme is designed to help.
"...I regret making the decision because, in the end, the baby continued to be in intensive care, and KKH now runs up a total bill of more than $300,000..."- Lim Hng Kiang, regretting the decision to save a baby's life because KKH ran up a $300K.
One of the worse case such rules is the one created by Minister Lim Hng Kiang when he was the Minister of Health. This is one sickeing example and shows the extent the PAP govt can go to deny help to the people who needs it. When Lim Hng Kiang was health minister, he found out that parents of babies who needed to go into ICU would downgrade to a lower class to save cost. What happens is middle class families often sign up for class A or class B or private packages for delivery at hospitals. Most of the time the baby is alright and the hospital stay is a few days. However, in a few unfortunate cases the baby is born with complications - there was no Medisheld coverage for babies born with health problems during the time Lim Hng Kiang was health minister. When the baby was born with health complications and had to go to ICU, the parent would quickly downgrade to class "C". The reason for doing this is very practical ICU stay can cost up $1000 per day and sometimes $3000 when some kind of procedure has to be performed on the baby. For prematured babies who have to stay in hospital several months it is not uncommon to run up bills of several hundred thousand or more. ICU is the same for class A, class B and class C - hospitals have only one ICU and distiguish between the classes only in the computation of bills. Because the PAP govot does not provide universal healthcare coverage and leave out babies with congenital health problems, downgrading is the only way for middle class parents to avoid the risk of financial ruin.
When Lim Hng Kiang became health minister he decided to stop parents from downgrading when their babies needed to go to ICU. If they came in to deliver the baby as a Class A patient, thei baby would have to go into ICU as a Class A patient. This is a horrible rule as couples signing up for a Class A delivery package that cost, say $3000, get stuck in Class A if their baby needed to go into ICU incurring bills of hundreds of thousands. Imagine the trauma of having a baby that has a serious health problem and needs care in ICU - instead of giving you a helping hand, the govt put in a rule to maximise your financial pain at a time when your family is having a crisis.
One day this rule kicked in when a couple in a private hospital (Mount Alvernia?) had a prematured baby that urgently needed surgery that can only be be done at KK hospital. With this in "mo downgrade" rule place, the couple were not able to transfer the baby as private patient to KKH unless they were able to pay a hefty deposit. The reason why the hospital administrators had to call up Minister Lim Hng Kiang in the middle of the night in order to transfer the baby from private hospital to public hospital was the rule was implemented without any avenue for appeal....only Minister Lim could make the decision to allow a downgrade to lower class so that the parents didn't need to put up a financial deposit. Lim Hng Kiang not being his usual self that night decided to allow the exception and allow the child to live. He later said in parliament that he regretted his decision that allowed the child to get the operation in KKH because the final (unsubsidised) bill came to $300K. .he preferred to have the young couple shoulder this burden..but the basic idea of a "public hospital" is to provide affordable care. It is quite amazing that they created a rule that get in the way of the basic reason for having a public hospital then express regret for making an exception that allowed the hospital to do what it was suppose to do - saving lives.
There are very few things worse than falling into a policy blackhole in the PAP system. You can get into a really unexpected painful situation....and the PAP govt is not going to help you.
Posting Time 8:24 PM
Posted by Lucky Tan