By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Review of healthcare financing will involve fundamental shifts: Health Minister” (Channel NewsAsia, Mar12).

No more Medisave admin fee?

It states that “The Health Ministry said it will also absorb the fee of about S$3 that is charged to institutions for each Medisave claim that patients make.”

People have been calling for years, for this Medisave administrative fee introduced 29 years ago in 1984, to be scrapped. This fee can be as much as 22 per cent of the amount of Medisave utilised.

Why did it take so many years to finally decide to remove it? (“CPF – F1 or F9 : Pay up to 22% to use MediSave?, Jul 6, 2007)

Medifund for polyclinics?

As to “”By June 2013, we will also extend Medifund to the polyclinics, including dental services there””, people have been calling for years, for Medifund to be allowed for out-patient treatment in the polyclinics, so that the staff at public hospitals do not have to raise funds every year to cater for those who cannot afford to pay.

Why did it take so many years to finally decide to allow it? (“PAP Transformation Series – 12 Suggestions to reform healthcare“, May 23, 2011)

Higher public healthcare spending?

With regard to “The government will take on a greater share of national spending, from the current one-third to about 40 per cent and possibly even further”, people have been calling for years, for the gradual decline of the share of public healthcare spending from about 75 per cent in 1965 to about 33 (a third) per cent now, to be reversed.

So, why did it take so many years to finally decide now to reverse the trend and spend more?

In this connection, according to the Department of Statistics’ “Singapore, 1965 – 1995
Statistical Highlights : A Review of 30 Years’ Development”,
Government Operating Expenditure on Health as a Per Cent of Total
Government Operating Expenditure, declined from 9.5 per cent in 1970
to 7.8 in 1980, 6.5 in 1990, and 6.3 per cent in 2005. (“Healthcare Costs“, Nov 22, 2006)

More hospitals?

In respect of “By 2020, there will be 4,100 more acute and community hospital beds, 400 more than what was announced in 2012.

Beyond 2020, the ministry is also planning to build four new acute hospitals in areas where demand is likely to grow”, people have been calling for years, for more hospital beds because the total number of hospital beds in Singapore decreased in the last decade or so, despite an increase in the population by more than a million.

So, why did it take so many years to decide to increase? (“Not-so-ordinary ordinary Singaporean – Leong Sze Hian, Nov 22, 2010)

More polyclinics?

As to “Mr Gan also announced plans for new polyclinics. By 2017, polyclinics will be opened in two new towns — Jurong West and Punggol.

He added that there will be four new polyclinics by 2020, and another six to eight more by 2030″, people have been calling for years, for more polyclinics because I understand that the number of polyclinics has remained the same for the last 15 years or so.

So, why did it take so many years to decide to increase them?

How much longer?

With regard to “Mr Gan said the major review of the health financing framework, which was initiated in 2012, will take some time”, people have been calling for years for a revamp of the healthcare system – how much longer do Singaporeans have to wait?

More transparency?

We must continue to ask for greater transparency of the healthcare statistics, like the patients’ rejection rate for Medifund, out-of-pocket hospitalisation costs for subsidised wards at the higher percentiles and B1 and A wards, etc, so that this “Waking up slowly from years of slumber?” will continue. (“Hospitals: 80% of patients pay less than $100?“, Mar 11 and “Medifund helped over 0.5m patients?“, Feb 23)