By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “$100m in Medifund aid provided to needy patients last year” (Straits Times, Nov 15).

Medifund disbursed $100m?

It states that “Over $100 million in aid was provided, up from $90 million the year prior to that. A third of this went to elderly patients. Medifund helps low-income Singaporeans who are unable to afford their medical bills despite government subsidies and after using their Medisave and MediShield accounts.

587,000 successful Medifund applications?

Over 587,000 Medifund applications were approved last year?

Healthcare is affordable (Class C and B2)?

The perennial debate in Singapore is how affordable is healthcare? To narrow down the analysis, let’s confine ourselves to the lowest Class C and B2 treatment in public healthcare institutions.

The problem in this regard may be – where do we get the statistics to try to answer this question of affordability?

Well, the answer may have arrived in the subject newspaper report.

Medifund applications increased 65%?

Allow me to explain. The number of successful applications for Medifund, which is only applicable to Class C (normally full subsidy under Medifund) and B2 (normally partial subsidy)  increased by about 65 per cent from 356,566 to 587,000, from FY2007 to FY2012.

So, if more and more Singaporeans can’t even pay for the lowest classes of medical treatment, despite “government subsidies and after using their Medisave and MediShield accounts” – isn’t this the most damning evidence that healthcare is not so affordable?

96% out-patients also cannot afford? 

Also, the percentage of Medifund payouts that go to out-patient treatment has averaged about 96 per cent over the years.

So, if about 563,520 (587,000 times 96%) out-patient treatments in our lowest treatment classes last year could not even afford to pay, despite our so called “up to 80 per cent subsidy for Class C”, up to 9.5 per cent contribution to our Medisave account and Medishield insurance cover – how can healthcare be repeatedly said to be affordable?

I rest my case.

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