Health Minister promises to keep healthcare costs down, but medical inflation set to rise faster than region

by Kwok Fangjie

In a survey conducted by Manulife in 2014, 71% of middle-class to affluent Singaporeans were concerned about deteriorating health in their old age. The same survey showed that on average, Singaporeans expect to spend 13% of their retirement income on medical bills and 55% of those surveyed had worries over “unaffordable” healthcare costs.

Report: Singapore’s medicals costs set to rise higher than average

Channel NewsAsia reported on Saturday (7 Apr) that a Healthcare Trends Report by consultancy firm Aon Asia projected that healthcare costs in Singapore will rise faster than most of the Asian region. Using an index designed to reflect insurers’ views on medical inflation, Singapore had a score of 95.1 – higher than the median score of 82.7.

The author noted that there “is still plenty to be done to curb medical inflation in Singapore starting with medical insurers and healthcare providers working together on chronic disease management programmes, and companies encouraging their employees to participate in wellness programmes.”

The report also gave the medical inflation was 20% 2014 and was 9.6% in 2017. This is in contrast with a statement by Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat which stated that the average annual healthcare inflation rate was 2.4 per cent between 2011 and 2016 after taking into consideration government subsidies.

Minister of Health: Subsidies ensure that healthcare remains affordable

In a 2016 Committee of Supply debate, the Minister for Health outlined several key initiatives to make healthcare costs affordable. Such initiatives include the Medishield Life, Pioneer Generation Package, and an increase in subsidies for outpatient drugs and specialist care which benefits 715,000 Singaporeans.

This was reaffirmed the following year when the Minister said that Singaporeans “have multiple layers of support for their healthcare needs” and that the government “will regularly review the adequacy of drug subsidies and the different schemes to ensure that medication remains affordable”.

Prominent Blogger: Healthcare subsidies are PAP ‘propaganda’

Blogger Phillip Ang – whose blog likedatosocanmeh has gotten more than 1.6 million views – called healthcare subsidies as “propaganda”. He cited an example on how a polyclinic consultation increased from $11 to $11.80 despite an increase in grant as the consultation fees were also increased in tandem at a higher pace. He added that this was no better than a private GP, which costs $20.

What do you think?