The state of healthcare in Singapore

The past few weeks has been very distressing for my family. My dad was hopitalized and warded in the intensive care unit for pneumonia. During this period, we received a couple of calls from the hospital informing us that my dad was in very critical condition and that we should visit him immediately.
Thankfully, he pulled through and is now warded in the general ward. At the back of our mind, we were also very concerned about the costs incurred because we are all aware of the exorbitant hospitalization fees in Singapore.
Incidentally, my late father-in-law was also hospitalized in intensive care unit, albeit last year. His situation was more complicated as he needed a lot of blood transfusion, kidney dialysis and other life supporting equipment aids. Eventually, his body could not take it and he passed on after three months in the intensive care unit. His hospitalisation bills amounted to more than S$300,000 and after Medishield and subsidies, my wife’s family still owed the hospital ten of thousands dollars hospital bills. The hospital (which is different from my dad’s) hounded my wife’s family for payment and even issued them with lawyer’s letters.

SG Wealth Builder

The $8.00 operation
I recalled in 2010, one of our Singapore ministers had a heart bypass operation and he bragged to the whole world that he only paid S$8.00 for the hospital bills. I believe this is because he had bought expensive private insurance schemes that covered his hefty hospital bills. He even went on to marvel at the beauty of Singapore healthcare system, which consists of “3M” – Medisheld, Medisave and Medifund.

Well I don’t know his intentions when he made those statements back then but I was not impressed at all. There are a lot of Singaporeans who did not benefit from 3M and my family clan is one of them. When my family received the hospital bills. we were all shocked. After all, we thought my late father-in-law had bought Medishield and it should not be so expensive.

So I visited CPF website and found out that the maximum payout per policy year is $50,000. So after subsidy, Medishield claim and the little amount of Medisave my father-in-law had, we still had to pay ten of thousands dollars. We are not rich, nor do we belong to the low-income group. So we were told by the social worker that we were not entitled to Medifund, which will kick in only after we exhausted all our Medisave and monies in the bank.

Where got help?
To the rich people, especially our Ministers who are multi-millionaires, healthcare costs is not a concern for them. They can easily afford to pay expensive premiums to shield themselves from hefty hospital bills. Therefore many of the Ministers were unable to relate to most Singaporean’s concerns of hefty hospital bills and their stance is always that the Singaporeans are heavily subsidized and that immediate family should shoulder the costs instead of relying on government’s aid.

Well firstly, providing affordable healthcare services to Singaporean should be considered as one of the fundamental duties of our government. It should not be considered as a form of welfare as we protect and contribute to the nation building. So the nation should take care of us when we grow old.

Secondly, many Singaporean belongs to the sandwiched and middle-income group. Many of us have aged parents to take care of but many of us are not eligible for the subsidies because of our income limits. So whenever the Minister boasted that various helps and schemes are in place for needy Singaporean, it sound so hollow to me. They made it sound so easy yet when you tried to apply for financial assistance, so many harsh conditions were attached.

Sometimes it makes me wonder the true value of being a Singaporean. We contributed actively to the economy when we are young yet the government is unwilling to take care of us when we are old and ill. What a raw deal.

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Magically yours,

SG Wealth Builder

Updated: May 5, 2017 — 3:29 pm

8 Comments

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  1. What is the Ward class?

    A, B1 , B2 or C for $300K medical bill?

  2. My father-in-law was warded in Class C.

    How can people like us afford Class A, B1 or B2???

  3. my sympathy to you and your family.

    there is however a parallel though not exactly over this issue of health care and the Genneva victims, who blame the govt.

    When you are the victim or one who is experiencing the pain, you tend to put the blame on the govt (I know it is a totally different thing, health as compared to investment), but all victims have a similar feeling, which is greviances and pain, be it they are in the wrong, really a victim, or greed.

    So sometimes, just be more compassionate towards the so called victim, and view it from their angle, although you may not agree, and feel they so call deserve it.

  4. After all subsidies by Govt, for C Ward. It is $XX,XXX or $XXX,XXX payable by patient?

  5. My sympathy to you and your family as well…

    My friend whose father passed away in hospital also owed the hospital a lot of money. He just didnt bother paying and nothing happened even having many lawyers letters. It has been 4-5 years already. Maybe you can just ignore all these persistent request for payment and it will go away as bad debt.

    Sometimes i feel that the 3M seems to protect the hospitals from losing money and it is packaged in such a way as to protect the individual. I didnt like the part where medifund kicks in only when the individual has depleted all his savings.Anyway, i still have a private hospitalisation plan just in case.

  6. I agree with Swee chye above on the parallels between your health care case and the Genneva victims. Both are requests for the government to intervene in the respective areas. Allow me to elaborate more below on why there is a reasonable expectation for the government to step in

    For health care, you are requesting for the government to step in to help defray the costs. Granted that you do not have many choices for treatment, seeing.

    For the Genneva victims, they were requesting for the government to police these scams. From the victims point of view, they might have agreed to take the risk for high returns and potentially suffer losses, but they did not agree to be scammed and lose the whole principal. The most severe accusation would be that they were downright naive, but to say that they deserved it would be much too harsh.

    Seeing that the government is active in warning against low tech scams like ‘magic stones’ etc there is an expectation that they should cover financial scams which are arguably more devastating. Case in point would be the active role by Bank Negara to protect the Malaysians. For a supposedly third world country, they are more proactive, even raiding other similar companies. I also have a nagging suspicion that if Malaysia did not raid Genneva, Singapore would probably not have done anything…

  7. Hi Createwealth888,

    The amount is SXX,XXX payable by the patient.

  8. Yes, Medishield is not enough. Need to educate the young adults that need to get private insurance schemes that top up on the Medishield (even if your company covers you – in case you move to new company and are excluded on existing illnesses). If the yound adult can afford, worth to spend on private insurance schemes for their parents also

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