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In another sign that the SDP’s NationalHealthcare Plan is taken seriously by establishment circles, theSingapore Medical Association (SMA) News has published an articleco-authored by Professor Paul Tambyah and Dr Tan Lip Hong in itsSeptember issue.$CUT$
Titled Towards Universal HealthCoverage, Prof Tambyah and Dr Tan quoted World HealthOrganization’s (WHO) Director-General Dr Margaret Chan comment onhigh healthcare expenses:
Direct out-of-pocket payments at thetime of care are identified as the single biggest barrier touniversal coverage. While user fees have been promoted as a way toreduce the overuse of services, this is not what happens. User feespunish the poor. They are inefficient. They encourage people to delayseeking care until a condition is far advanced, and far moredifficult and expensive to treat. And when people do pay out ofpocket for care, financial ruin can be the result.
The authors who are members of theSDP’s Healthcare Advisory Panel point out that Singapore’s healthcareexpenditure is funded in large part by out-of-pocket payments made bythe people. As a result, many Singaporeans risk financialdifficulties when they meet catastrophic illnesses.
They point out that, “Everyone shouldhave access to essential preventive, curative and rehabilitativehealth services” because healthcare “is a basic human right.”
Prof Tambyah and Dr Tan are alsoconcerned that the recent proposal by the Government to introduceMediShield Life may keep “the burden on individuals and companiesunsustainably high.”
Instead, they write, the alternativeproposals included in the SDP’s healthcare plan covers all outpatientchronic disease care as well as inpatient hospitalisation with acapped maximum co-payment. The government shoulders the major portionof the nation’s health expenditure.
In a mature society, the debate overcompeting healthcare plans between the ruling and opposition partieswould be intense with the people kept informed about the prosand cons of the proposals. Equipped with such knowledge, theelectorate goes to the polls during elections to choose between thecompeting parties and their ideas.
Unfortunately, Singaporeans are stilllargely uninformed about the SDP’s alternative proposal because themass media have given limited coverage and discussion space to it.
The PAP has often criticised theopposition for merely attacking its policies but not offered anysolutions. However, when the SDP comes up with alternative policyproposals, such as our healthcare plan, the state media pay littleattention to it.
Read also Crucial differences between Govt’s and SDP’s healthcare plans
The SDP has also drawn up comprehensiveand detailed plans to address the problems in our housing system,foreign workers policy and ministerial pay. We have also written apaper to deal with the concerns of our Malay community.
We will continue to be a constructiveparty as we believe that competition and the contest of ideas areultimately good for Singaporeans.