File photo of patients at a polyclinic in Singapore.
One analyst described the Budget measures as “generous, elderly-friendly and pro-poor”. But more needs to be done, said healthcare policy expert Dr Phua Kai Hong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
SINGAPORE: Ensuring the supply of medical services in future will be cost-effective so that it will not bring about over-consumption – this was a key observation made by a healthcare policy expert.
Dr Phua Kai Hong explained that the government will have to strike a balance between supply and demand side as well as public and private spending, as the government brings in substantial financing on the demand side.
Increased subsidies for specialist outpatient clinics for lower- and middle-income Singaporeans and more Medisave top-ups were some of the measures announced in Budget 2014 to make healthcare costs more affordable for locals, especially the elderly.
The moves earned the nods of many.
“Of course, it’ll help me, because at the moment I’m getting the health subsidies,” said Mr Robert Tan, aged 72.
“My mom is already 81, so she’s the only one who will benefit,” said Mr Liau Thian Sing, aged 45.
“If they (parents) have insufficient cash or insufficient funds, we (being their children) will actually have to help them,” said Ms Fiona Kam, 48.
One analyst described the Budget measures as “generous, elderly-friendly and pro-poor”.
But more needs to be done, said healthcare policy expert Dr Phua Kai Hong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
“What we are worried is the middle-class crunch, the generation that’s in between, who not only have to support their elderly parents but will also have to take care of their own healthcare needs in the future,” said Dr Phua.
“So, for this group, I think, as we go along we have to tweak the system to ensure that the Medisave top-ups will be enough.”
On the minds of many, having a more extensive list of conditions that can be covered by Medisave would be a bonus.
“Those people who are already ill, they hope so much that the list can go longer so that it will actually help them,” said Ms Fiona Kam.
The government has said that with higher Medisave contributions, it will allow elderly Singaporeans to use a portion of their Medisave more flexibly across a range of outpatient treatments.