Polyclinic fees up: Govt healthcare operating expenditure % lower than 1970?

By WB

TOC’s article, “Polyclinics up consultation fees from 1 July” (Jul 2) notes that “The consultation fees at the 18 polyclinics around Singapore have been increased from 1 July.”

The article further went on to state, “The two groups which oversee the clinics, Singhealth and National Healthcare Group (NHG), have updated  their websites with the new charges … for Singaporean adults at NHG polyclinics are up $0.60, from $11.30 to $11.90″.

70% increase last 18 years?

As polyclinic fees were $7 in 1997 – it has increased by up to 70 per cent ($11.90 divided by $7) with the periodic increases in the last 18 years.

Inflation – 35% increase last 18 years?

Against this increase – inflation was about 35 per cent during the same period.

So, why increase polyclinic fees which cater to the poorest Singaporeans by double (70%) the rate of inflation (35%)?

Polyclinics are for the poorest?

While I can understand and appreciate the need to raise fees, I would like to suggest that fees for polyclinics be kept unchanged, because the needy should be spared the brunt of rising costs of so many increases in the cost of living.

1970 – govt healthcare operating expenditure 9.5% 

According to the Department of Statistics’ (DOS) Singapore, 1965-1995 Statistical Highlights: A Review of 30 Years’ Development – government operating expenditure on health as a percentage of total government operating expenditure was 9.5 per cent in 1970.

2005 – govt healthcare operating expenditure 8.1% 

According to the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) reply to the Straits Times Forum on 29 March 2007 –  government operating expenditure on health as a percentage of total government operating expenditure was 8.1 per cent in 2005.

2013 – govt healthcare operating expenditure 9.2% 

Using data from the MOH web site, I calculated the government operating expenditure on health as a percentage of total government operating expenditureto be 8.0, 9.2 and 9.8 per cent in FY2012, FY2013 and FY2014 respectively.

Any country spent less compared to 43 years ago?

Are there any developed countries in the world whose government operating expenditure on health as a percentage of total government operating expenditure, was lower in 2013 (9.2%), 2012 (8.0%), 2005 (8.1%) compared to 1970 (9.5%)?

Very low public healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP?

Data from World Bank

The increase in polyclinic fees now underscores the fact that our public healthcare expenditure as a percentage of GDP, at 1.9 per cent in FY2014, is one of the lowest in the world.