Medical Cost in Singapore. Is It Affordable?

From a small thing like surgical suture, needle, cotton ball, medication to a big item like operation room, ward etc, cost us a big sum, some even drain up our savings, either from our Medisave Account or bank accounts.

In Singapore, an adage “It is better to die than to fall sick” is well known among Singaporeans, especially those from the lower and middle income families. However, this is not only true in Singapore, healthcare systems all over the world are struggling with the rising healthcare costs. This leaves Singaporeans worried about their current and future medical needs.

Medical cost inflation is mainly the reason which causes the increasing medical cost borne by us nowadays. But, why does this happen? Against the backdrop of rapid economic growth, high medical cost inflation and a demographic transition leading to issues of rapidly aging population.

Hence, at the population level, aging and disease patterns play a large part in explaining the issue of rising costs. Singapore is rapidly aging as a country and the rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure increase with age and with worsening lifestyle habits. Thus Singapore is facing a double whammy: We are getting older and fatter!!!

With the concerns over healthcare costs have surfaced with greater alarm in Singapore, the government is paying much attention in handling this issue. For example, enhance our existing healthcare system, Medishield to Medishield Life.

This new system has been implemented last November and it covers every Singaporean as well as Singapore Permanent Residence. Apart from that, annual claim limit has been increased too and those who have been “abandoned” due to existing health condition(s) will be “accepted” into this new system with few criteria to be met.

Nevertheless, is the newly adjusted annual claim limit enough for us, especially in this rising trend of medical cost? It really depends on the situation faced. It will be more than enough to settle the bill within the limit if the condition is mild, but what if the condition is worsened or the diagnosis is serious?

Are we able to settle the bill if the figure falls outside the annual limit or such condition requires us to have further on-going medical reviews after we are discharged from hospital?

Similarly, for foreigners who are holding a valid pass at Singapore, they are facing the same issue like us. Even with the new healthcare system, they are still not enjoying the benefits as what we are enjoying currently and worst of all is their medical expenses is not subsidized by the government. So, how are they going to solve the rising medical cost when they stay in Singapore?

Additionally, current healthcare system as well as the new system do not cover some medical cost incurred, and how are we going to cope with it if the figure exceeds the withdrawal limit of own Medisave account?

To some people who prefer more privacy, they would opt for higher ward types but the system offers limited options for ward types such as B2 or C ward of government hospitals. So how does this group of people to “enjoy” this benefit even they are hospitalised?

In a nutshell, people who basically stay in Singapore will still upgrade their hospitalisation plan with private insurance companies to counter some of the flaws in the healthcare system, not only to have a higher annual claim limit but also to have some coverage on the pre- and post- hospitalisation period as well as some uncovered medical cost.