Whatever his noble intentions, be it attracting more foreigners, making a sales pitch for MediShield, promoting the medical tourist business, or plain electioneering plug for the wonderful job the MIW is doing for the country, you can't escape the fact that Khaw's claim amounts to false advertising.
The used-to-be credible Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan ("if everyone were to be like Mrs Lee, this planet would be heaven") proudly declared: "My out-of-pocket expense for the hospital bill was $8 only". Khaw was referring to his bypass surgery, and no, he did not disclose the itemised bill. He did say his hospital expenses were largely covered by MediShield and a private Shield supplement. What he did not reveal was the accumulated sum of the insurance premiums he had been shelling out for a rainy day. Or that, as a civil servant, he is entitled to more medical freebies than the average Singaporean slaving in the private sector. Khaw takes delight to boast in his blog that after the 2008 MediShield reform, the MediShield payout was raised from 56% of large hospital bills to 66%, a 10%-point increase. What he did not mention were the various increases in medical charges and cost of medication since that year. It's the same old pay and pay system, jack up the tariffs, then offer the paltry rebates.
Insurance is a convoluted business. How many realise that many policies do not cover tumours that are benign, non-malignant or pre-malignant and non life-threatening? The 21 definitions of the main critical illnesses set out by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) include this: "A non-malignant tumor/cyst in the brain, cranial nerves or meninges within the skull, resulting in permanent neurological deficit that has persisting symptoms" - meaning, tumors in the pituitary gland and angiomas are not covered. It's a truism about insurance that says you win only when you really lose. And when you're gone, the money goes to somebody else. Will you be really rejoicing that you have stage 4 cancer and your premiums have been up to date?