Is this why healthcare is so expensive in Singapore?

How much do you think the Government charges for a consultation at the polyclinic? A bill obtained by the SDP puts it down at $35 (see below). No medication, no tests - just a short 10-minute consultation.

The invoice also indicates that the Government subsidises the patient by $25.60. The final amount payable by the patient is $9.40 - a subsidy of almost 75 percent. That's rather generous of the Ministry of Health.

But the notion of a generous PAP goes against everything we have come to know about this Government which seems to take pride in its ham-fisted, penny-pinching, Scrooge-like ways when dealing with the people. In this case, the PAP did not disappoint because a quick check with general practitioners in private practice shows that the average fee for a normal consultation at a family clinic is about $20.


How did the Government come up with the amount of $35? How can the consultation fee in a polyclinic be one-third more than what a private GP charges when the private practitioner has rent and staff salary to pay?

It seems that the amount of the bill has been jacked up by the inclusion of various costs, justified or not. A 'big' subsidy is then given to demonstrate that the Government is doing a lot for the people.

This seems like a leaf from the HDB's playbook. The Government inflates the cost of the flats by factoring in land cost at market rates as well as opportunity costs, and then claims to subsidise the flats by selling them at a 'lower' price.

It's like the guy who, instead of selling you a banana for 50 cents, hikes the price to $1 and then peddles the age-old sales trick - buy one, get one free.

Singaporeans must not fall for this gimmick any longer. We must see this Government for what it really is, a government that treats the people like customers and does everything to ensure that it milks us for every cent.

Sadly when it comes to healthcare, it does the same thing. The PAP treats medical care like a commodity. It is unfortunate that Singaporeans have grown accustomed to such an arrangement and accept it as the way things should be.

But that's not the way things should be. Healthcare is not a commodity. It is a right. Medical treatment is not a product that we buy as we do a handbag or a watch - the richer you are, the better quality product you can buy. And if you are poor and cannot afford it, too bad, you don't get treatment.

Such thinking on the part of the people and such practice on the part of the Government must change. Unfortunately, the opposition has not provided a clear alternative.

Until now, that is. All this will change when the SDP unveils our National Healthcare Plan in the coming weeks. The party's Healthcare Advisory Panel made up of a team of medical doctors and healthcare economists has developed an alternative healthcare scheme for Singapore.

This landmark publication presents an in-depth and comprehensive reform of our medical care system that will put to rest the PAP's commercialisation of healthcare in Singapore. It is the alternative that Singaporeans have been waiting for. Details of the paper and its launch will be announced shortly on this website.

Healthcare Tuesday, 28 February 2012 SDP Print

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