Why Singapore Healthcare Costs Can Potentially Write Your ‘Riches to Rags’ Story


As the Singaporean population ages, the pressure on its national healthcare system is rising steadily too. Despite the recent increase in government financial healthcare expenditure from $4 billion to $7.5 million over the past three years, the growth in healthcare infrastructure and services is lagging significantly to catch up with the growth required to cater to its steadily aging population. By 2030, there will be more than twice the number of senior citizens living in the country than today.

The overall rise in sedentary lifestyles is also carving the path to a long-term healthcare system collapse quicker. Hence, the government of Singapore, along with the masses, needs to collectively swallow a bitter pill and make the appropriate financial amends rather than let it decay into a poisonous pill. A stronger financial emphasis on disease prevention campaigns and community care is necessary to take control of the healthcare vehicle spinning out of control.

Dissecting the Core Problems of the Singapore Healthcare System

Even though Singaporeans spend a massive chunk of their taxes on getting Medisave, Medishield and Medifund schemes, the healthcare costs are so elevated that you still need to invest in private health insurance schemes to ensure you are fully covered.

The health subsidies offered by the government only account for 30% of total health expenditure. The Medisave, Medishield and Medifund schemes only range from 0.7% to 5.5%. Even after the subsidies, you will probably have to shell out over 50% of your healthcare bills out of your own pockets.

Singaporeans have put nearly $66 billion into Medisave, but were reported to have used only used 6% of that amount last year. Additionally, the amount put into Medishield is approximated to be $4 billion with only $2 billion effectively claimed. As a result, these schemes have given a very poor return on the tax dollars contributed by Singaporeans.

In spite of this poor track record, the government is planning to propose an additional 1% CPF contribution for Medisave and Medishield premiums. It is not surprising to witness numerous working class Singaporeans detest these increase in costs that are detrimental to their personal healthcare requirements.

Here are some of the most important problems with the national healthcare system in Singapore:

  • Over-dependency on Market Pricing – One of the fundamental problems with the Singaporean healthcare system is the government’s reluctant stance of looking beyond market pricing. As a result, all lands owned by hospitals along with their services are priced and subsidized according to the market.

In Singapore, public hospitals are regulated in a way that they end up becoming pure public service providers in contrast with private hospitals that run on profits. Secondly, the government has further complicated the situation by running hospitals the way private entities are run.

  • Poor Pricing Priorities – Singaporean hospitals have an infamous reputation of prioritizing redundant materialistic indulgences over fundamental functionality. Thousands of dollars are spent on the construction of fancy architectural peripherals and lavish furniture instead of cutting down on the essential construction and maintenance budget.
  • Failure of the Ward Class System – The failure of the ward classification system to generate revenue for hospitals has done nothing to conserve more infrastructural and human resources than ever.
  • Wastage of Resources On Medical Tourism – Although medical tourism is a scientifically progressive idea, public hospitals must not delve into it because their sole aim is to harness all resources allotted to the medical welfare of the populace.

Since the government is already building up to a debt problem in the National Healthcare system, there is a great need for valuing the hard-earned tax money of citizens.

A Brief Summary

Although the PAP government’s inadequacies may be defended as unavoidable liabilities for the benefit of the people, the truth is Singaporeans end up stuck with brow-raising healthcare costs due to incompetent policy making.

The Hong Kong healthcare system is a great example of a truly efficient welfare program that matches up to the standards of Singapore’s system despite not enjoying the privilege of such a high budget. Singapore’s healthcare funding can get a major shot in the arm if there is a limitation set on the rule excluding land sales as part of government revenues. If such problems are left unresolved, then a significant chunk of the population will be crushed under a mountain of healthcare debt eventually.

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