Why should I pay for someone else’s medical treatment? is a question that some ask in response to the SDP’s healthcare plan. Indeed, it seems outrageous that we should shoulder someone else’s medical expenses especially if we take care of our health while others don’t. Worse, why should we pay for those who are unemployed and not contributing to the expenditure?
The answer is two-fold: One, because it is the smart thing to do and, two, it is right to do.
Let’s start with the first.
Those of you who drive know that it is an offence not to have insurance for your car. You may be a very careful driver and have not met with any accident – and probably never will. Yet, you pay for insurance for your vehicle knowing that there is a high chance that you’ll never use the money you fork out.
On the other hand, the reckless jerk in the next car zips in and out of traffic with no regard for anyone’s safety. If he ends up getting into a crash, he will claim from the insurance company for repairs to his car.
In other words, what you pay to the insurance company gets used for his troubles which he brought upon himself. This seems completely unfair. But you wouldn’t think of not buying insurance for your car partly because it is against the law not to and partly because you can never be sure that, as careful a driver as you are, you won’t meet with an accident yourself.
The same rationale applies to healthcare. We may be extremely health conscious and take meticulous care of our body. But we can never be sure that that pain that you wake up feeling one morning may not be a cancerous one.
And if it is cancer that you have fallen victim to, your treatment may cost tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. You will end up using someone else’s healthcare contribution.
This is why
The SDP National Healthcare Plan proposes that all of us who are employed and draw an income above a certain amount contribute to this pool of funds which we call the National Health Investment Fund (NHIF). For most of us the amount will be $600 a year taken from our CPF. (This compares to $1,680 that we pay a year in Medisave which we propose be scrapped.)
And when we fall ill and need treatment, the Government pays 90 percent of the bill. We pay only 10 percent and up to a maximum of $2,000. In other words, we don’t go broke if we are diagnosed with an illness like cancer.
We estimate that the amount that all of us pay into the NHIF will be about $1.3 billion. The Government comes out with $10.5 billion. This will take care of the bulk of our country’s healthcare expenses.
Paying into a pool of funds like the NHIF is not just the smart, but also the right, thing to do. For people who are unemployed, they need healthcare too. People are unemployed not out of choice but circumstance.
Many are retrenched through no fault of theirs and may find themselves out of work and out of income. When they fall ill do we not have to provide them medical care? Or do we leave them to die?
If they are nursed back to health, they will be able to return to the job market and contribute to the economy which benefits everyone. Again the smart thing to do.
And remember, the unemployed include people like our elderly parents. The SDP Plan pays for their medical care as well. It also includes housewives who stay home and look after the family but who are not considered employed.
So before you ask why you should pay for someone else’s healthcare especially when they are unemployed, think of your parents, your spouse, your children and yourself. You might just be very glad that you did.