More successful applications for Medifund but what's the breakdown?

Statistics that keep getting better?

Leong Sze Hian / Columnist

I refer to the article, “Medifund kitty increased” (ST, Dec 18). 

It says that only 1,366 Medifund applications, compared to 356,566 approved applications, were turned down – less than one in 200. Last year, it was reported that there were 6,456 Medifund rejections, a 30-fold increase compared to 210 in 2005.

That is:

2005 = 210 rejections

2006 = 6,456 rejections

2007 = 1,366 rejections

Whilst the number of approved applications has increased by 18 per cent from 301,126 to 356,566, why is it that the number of rejections has declined dramatically by 79 per cent from 6,456 to 1,366?

In other words, a 30-fold increase the previous year has become an almost 80 per cent drop now.

Is it because the approval criteria has been relaxed, or has the ratio of needy to non-needy applicants increased substantially?

It was reported last year that the 301,126 approved applications were made by about 20,000 to 30,000 patients.

So, how many patients made up the latest 356,566 approved applications?

As I believe that patients who are rejected are unlikely to go through the paper work to apply again, are the 1,366 rejected patients or rejected applications? Were some told that they don’t even have to apply because they could not meet the basic criteria?

If most are rejected patients, then the rejection rate may not be one in 200, but much higher.

Madam Halimah Yacob, chairperson of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, expressed some concerns that the current conditions are too stringent, some procedures are excluded, and that for some ailments, B2 is the lowest class of ward available.

In this regard, what do needy patients do if they require procedures that are excluded, or cannot pay the at least 40 per cent of fees required for those ailments that has B2 as the lowest ward?

I would like to suggest that the Medifund approval criteria be made available to the public, so that needy Singaporeans need not become overly worried about medical costs.