Special blog feature:
By Yawning Bread

Leong Sze Hian devours numbers like almost no one I know. Recently, he noticed something about healthcare costs and subsidies that begged a lot of questions, and on at least 3 occasions, he tried to interest me in them.

I finally paid attention on his third attempt, by which time he had written a piece for The Online Citizen about his many observations. I’m not going to dwell on most of them, but only the bit about Medifund, which serves as the take-off point for this essay.

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What piqued Leong’s interest were the discrepancies in various numbers reported in the Straits Times.

On 4 December 2007, the headline of a story said “Record 301,000 needy patients get help from Medifund”. It reported that a total of “307,500 Singaporeans applied to Medifund” in 2006, of which only 6,500 or 2.1% were turned down.

It also reported that Medifund gave out a total of S$39.6 million in 2006.

Leong’s quick calculation revealed that on average each beneficiary received only S$132. His point was that this was not only remarkably stingy on a per capita basis, but looks even worse compared to 2001 pay-out of S$174 per head. (I don’t know what his source was for the 2001 figure.) This, especially as healthcare costs have been climbing more rapidly than inflation.

Read the full article on Yawning Bread.

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