In Parliament on Friday (5 Mar), Health Minister Gan Kim Yong assured the House that primary healthcare will be strengthened in Singapore, with 12 new polyclinics to be built, bringing the total number of polyclinics to 32 by 2030.
To make healthcare more accessible to seniors, community nursing teams have been expanded to cover 29 regions across the island since September 2020, with a total of 185 community nursing posts, Mr Gan said.
The Government has also been spending more on healthcare in Singapore, he added. The share of national health expenditure has been increased from 40 per cent in 2013 to 46 per cent in 2018. This works out to be about an increase of 1.2 per cent per year, on the average, from 2013 to 2018.
Indeed, after People’s Action Party (PAP) garnered a historical low of 60.1 per cent of valid votes in 2011, there were a lot of soul searching within the party. PAP decided that they needed to listen to the people more and launched the National Conversation the following year in 2012, holding dialogues with residents. Among the grievances surfaced was the high cost of healthcare in Singapore putting considerable strain on the people.
So in 2013, Gan started a review of Singapore’s healthcare financing system. Speaking to Parliament in Mar 2013, Gan said the first major shift was to increase the government’s share of national spending so as to provide Singaporeans with greater assurance that care would remain affordable. The government would thus take on a greater share of national spending from the then one-third to about 40 per cent and possibly even further, depending on various factors such as demographics, and the ability to manage healthcare costs and target the subsidies, he said at the time.
And as revealed by Gan yesterday, the share of national health expenditure has increased to 46 per cent in 2018.
Singapore’s share of national health expenditure below average of OECD’s and the world’s
Gan did not reveal the current percentage share of national health expenditure. However, even if the figure is at 50 per cent, Singapore’s share of national health expenditure is significantly below the OECD’s average.
According to the OECD website, on average, more than 70% of health spending is funded out of public resources among OECD countries – from government revenues and social insurance contributions.
Even compared to the rest of the world, Singapore’s share of national health expenditure is also below the world’s average. According to data from World Bank, the average government health expenditure in the world as a percentage of health expenditure was 59.5% in 2018, ahead of Singapore’s.
And in terms of out-of-pocket health expenditure as percentage share of total health expenditure, Singaporeans spent more than the rest of the world do. Singaporeans spent more out of their own pockets in terms of total health expenditure at 31% in 2018 compared to 18.1% for the rest of the world.
So, while Gan said that the share of national health expenditure has been increased to 46 per cent in 2018, it still pale compared to those of OECD countries and the rest of the world, on the average.
Furthermore, the trend of the increase spending on healthcare since 2009 seems to stem from the increased spending on development of healthcare facilities by the Ministry such as building of hospitals, clinics such as Ng Teng Fong which cost S$800 million and not on treatment expenses.