In a time of rising healthcare costs, insufficient hospital beds and an ageing population, Singapore’s healthcare system must adapt to meet these challenges.
The question is, how much change is needed? Does the 3M system – Medisave, Medishield and Medifund – provide enough of a safety net for Singaporeans? With our government healthcare expenditure (GHE) being a third of total healthcare expenditure (THE), the lowest in the developed world, is it possible or necessary to increase government healthcare spending?
Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party says the “fundamental premise of the current system is wrong.”
“Healthcare is not a commodity that you buy and sell in the market,” he tells publichouse.sg. “You’re talking about a situation whereby people, the poor, cannot afford healthcare, many of them stay away from getting treatment, or they delay it, and the consequences can sometimes be literally life and death situations.”
His party has marshalled a panel of doctors to help craft a healthcare policy radically different from the one currently in place in Singapore. Many of these doctors have, in their day to day practice, encountered patients who struggle to pay for medical treatment and who even refuse treatment because they know it will devastate them financially.
The SDP’s National Healthcare Plan ultimately seeks to keep the costs of healthcare low, reversing the trend of rising healthcare costs and profit-driven healthcare provision. The SDP’s proposal is driven by the belief that no one should be refused healthcare on the basis of being unable to pay for it.. Something that so heavily determines our lives should be made available to us as unconditionally as possible.
The publichouse.sg team has created a short video report, which includes an interview with Dr Chee, about the proposal which the SDP and the group of doctors have drawn up. They propose tightening regulation of the private healthcare sector in order to keep costs down, to cut the defence budget and increase its healthcare spending to 70% of the national total healthcare expenditure, to scrap the 3M system and introduce a single-payer scheme managed solely by the government. The goal of these changes is to reduce healthcare costs for everyone and create a more people rather than profit centric system.
Dr Wong Wee Nam, one of the doctors involved in crafting the SDP’s plan, wrote to Health Minister, Gan Kim Yong, in August, to have a dialogue with the SDP on the healthcare system in Singapore.
“Though it has been claimed that our healthcare system provides every Singaporean with good quality and affordable care, we do not think it is good enough,” Dr Wong wrote in his letter to the minister. “We certainly would like to know more about your ministry’s Health Vision 2020 so that together, we could come out with a better plan for our people.” (See here.)
The minister has yet to respond to the invitation.
The executive summary of the SDP’s National Healthcare Plan can be found here.
We intend for this 10-minute video to be a catalyst for us to think about what healthcare policies we want for ourselves, and to spur debate about the pros and cons of different healthcare systems.
Watch the video below and do share your thoughts.
You can also write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.