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One ofSingapore’s most distinguished clinician teachers, Professor Feng Pao-Hsii, wrote last week inthe Straits Times that “the 3Ms – Medisave, MediShield andMedifund – are out of date and there is a need to revamp the wholehealth funding system.”$CUT$
Reforming the 3M system is the crux of the SDP’salternative policy paper The SDP National Healthcare Plan: Caring ForAll Singaporeans.
Our plan advocates the abandonment ofthe 3Ms, which in any case accounts for only up to 15 percent ofhealthcare costs while consuming a tremendous amount of bureaucracyand paperwork. The resulting healthcare financing system places theburden of healthcare cost disproportionately on the people with theGovernment paying only a minor share.
Even with the Medisave scheme,which is being actively tweaked, there are still significant coststhat come from out of pocket especially for outpatient charges. Asthe Medisave funds are taken from one’s CPF, it diminishes evenfurther one’s retirement savings (already most of Singaporeans CPFfunds are used for housing).
In place of the 3Ms, the SDP proposes asingular fund called the National Health Investment Fund (NHIF) intowhich citizens and Government jointly pay. The amounts for eachperson varies depending on income level but, on average, each personpays $600 (deducted from their CPF accounts).
The total from the premiums collectedfrom citizens will be slightly more than $1 billion. The Governmentwill pay approximately $10 billion into the NHIF. This covers much ofcurrent healthcare expenditure. Upon hospitalisation, patients willco-pay 10 percent of their medical bills. (This will be limited to$2,000 per year if the bills exceed $20,000.) The remainder of thebill will be paid by the NHIF.
In this manner, no one will be deniedproper healthcare and those who receive treatment will not end upwith crippling medical bills.
Professor Feng, who is also EmeritusChairman of the National Arthritis Foundation Singapore, cited the denial ofhealth insurance under Medishield to patients suffering from systemiclupus erythematosus, a chronic medical condition that cannot beprevented by any kind of lifestyle modification, adding that this “isa travesty of the very concept of an inclusive health-care system.”
It was with this in mind that the SDPhas proposed replacing the 3Ms with a comprehensive single-payer NHIFsystem. Under this plan, health insurance would be non-profitstate-operated and no one will be denied coverage.
The SDP believes that healthcare is aninvestment in the health of our people and no one should be denied ofproper care.
Dr Tan Lip Hong
for the SDP Healthcare Advisory Panel