While Singaporeans are generally content with healthcare services provided by professionals locally, a majority have expressed a desire for more clarity around the medical treatments and advice prescribed to them.
According to a survey by insurance giant Aviva, 77 per cent of respondents stated that they are satisfied with healthcare professionals and the services they have received. However, 83 per cent of respondents across all ages and demographics asserted that they would like more detailed explanations and a better understanding of the necessity of treatment plans prescribed.
In fact, this gap causes 18 per cent of Singaporeans to disagree with treatment plans presented to them, citing reasons such as uncertainty behind the purpose of medicines and treatments (30 per cent), and the belief that they did not need the prescribed medication (41 per cent).
On a side note, a recent Mercer study showed Singapore’s medical cost inflation rose 10 per cent in 2018 and is expected to continue to rise in the coming years.
Through this survey, Aviva hopes to highlight the important role played by every individual in managing healthcare costs, allowing everyone to better understand Singaporeans’ personal habits, perceptions, and attitudes towards healthcare services, as well as how they are making healthcare decisions.
Respondents of this survey believed that having a clearer picture on diagnosis and prescribed treatments or medications can help to enhance their overall healthcare experience.
As it happens, 77 per cent of respondents often feel that information is lacking when it comes to treatment plans prescribed by doctors, and this resonates most strongly amongst those aged 45 to 54 years old (100 per cent) and 18 to 24-year-olds (88 per cent).
Meanwhile, a large number of young respondents expressed an interest in their personal health, with 97 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds wanting greater transparency on the necessity of treatment plans.
Similar sentiments were shared by the older generation (92 per cent), considering that fact that they may experience increasing health concerns and face higher risks with each medical procedure. Additionally, a further 80 per cent of Singaporeans would also like their doctors to discuss alternative treatment options with them.
In terms of where people are most likely to turn to for health information, 80 per cent listed GP referrals as their most trusted source, solidifying Singaporeans’ trust in their doctors.
Following close behind is family and friends (75 per cent), which reinforces the importance of equipping the public with sufficient and accurate health knowledge in order for them to be credible sources. Other popular sources of information for Singaporeans include panel specialists (61 per cent) and online browsing (42 per cent).
Alongside this demand for more information, the survey highlights a need to educate Singaporeans on the part they need to play in keeping healthcare costs affordable.
In fact, just 12 per cent of respondents believed that individuals themselves are responsible for keeping overall healthcare costs affordable, while 63 per cent believed this responsibility lies with the government. Other stakeholders that respondents suggested were responsible include insurers (8 per cent) and medical providers (17 per cent).
The need for education is also evident in the disparity of knowledge on healthcare benefits that they are entitled to, which is part of the solution to the rising costs. For instance, nearly half (46 per cent) of the respondents were unaware that their Integrated Shield Plan has a panel of medical specialists they can use.
Besides priority access to specialist appointments, policyholders also enjoyed preferred outpatient consultation fees when they visit panel specialists, which helps to reduce the incidence of overcharging and alleviating overall healthcare costs.
“When it comes to understanding healthcare options and getting the most out of their treatment plans, there are still education gaps for many Singaporeans. This survey suggests that Singaporeans would be able to make better, more informed, healthcare decisions if they were armed with accurate and relevant information and possess the ability to weigh up options provided by health practitioners,” said Nishit Majmudar, Chief Executive Officer of Aviva Singapore.
“Aviva aims to support initiatives that plug these gaps and encourage higher understanding amongst our customers such that they can take charge of their healthcare decisions and create good customer outcomes. Overall, this will be beneficial to the health insurance industry as it will help to slow down the escalating healthcare costs and insurance premiums,” he added.
Note: The survey was conducted between 9 and 10 January 2020, surveying 1,000 respondents across Singapore. Aviva noted that the findings are not related to COVID-19.