Saturday, January 8, 2011

If You Can Pay, You Can Afford It

Click for more upsetting statistics to increase your blood pressure
 Everybody knows about the $8 bill Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan paid for his surgical bypass. What we don't know is whether he had lobotomy done on the side to take advantage of the special rates he seems to enjoy. How else to account for his comment on the report that the average bill for a subsidised C-class patient has almost doubled in the four years since 2006? "The bottom line: We have good high-standard public hospitals that are affordable because of the 3Ms, " he said, referring to Medisave, Medishield and Medifund.

That's like Development Minister Mah Bow Tan saying HDB housing is affordable since a 25-year-old can always take out a 30 year loan. Never mind if he discovers decades later, at age 55, there's nothing left for retirement.

Khaw claims the majority have no difficulty in paying their bills, and four out of five of them are able to use Medishield and Medisave to cover the whole bill. There are good reasons why Singaporeans pay up bills: 1) the authorities will not hesitate to haul them up to court, 2) the loan sharks will spray paint their house-gates for free. And if it comes to jumping in front of the MRT tracks, you betcha LTA will make the surviving kin pay for messing up their shiny trains. When one guy decided to leap out of a hospital window while waiting his turn for a scan, he wasn't mentally disturbed as one reporter wrote. In all probability, the nightmare of a horrendous hospital bill may have contributed to his choice of drastic measures.

Asked to comment on the issue, unionist and fellow PAP MP Halimah Yacob would only call for healthcare costs to stay affordable and for the poor to have access to the various help schemes, a lame but politically correct response to a gross social injustice.


  1. How come means testing n reduced subsidies was not reported to be a contributing factor to increased hospital bills?

  2. How is it Singaporeans still believe that the Health Minister Of Sin had to pay for his own medication and medicare?

    Dont tell me that nowadays civil servants have no medical benefit? I thought people of his position, his whole family would be covered for free medical needs too.

  3. As a health minister serving the people who elected him into a job with multi-million dollar salary, the least he can do is to tell everyone exactly how he can get away with paying only $8 for heart-bypass surgery. What hospital? What kind of ward? What seniority of his surgeon(s)? What kind & price of his medical insurance? What about pre- and post-surgery specialist checkups? Show us the exact itemised bill(s) godamit!!

    But of coz he won't offer us the exact computer scans of his bills, insurance, secret techniques etc of how he actually did it. Coz that will only lower the profits of NHG, SingHealth, Raffles Medical Group, Parkway, insurers and other elite cronies.

  4. When they said we have good high-standard public hospitals that are affordable, they forgot to mention that the average queue for a subsidized patient at one of our public hospitals for your next appointment at some specialist dept or a CT scan is approx. 4~5 mths unless one opts out of the queue to pay as a private patient.

    Meanwhile for those who can't afford to pay the full 'affordable' rates, one can slowly develop their tumours during their 4~5 mths waiting period for all that they really care.

    Remember LKY wouldn't even want his wife to wait for another day for her scan and even placed an immediate order for a SIA Hospital service which made Singapore so proud! Who in their right mind would want to retire ?

  5. Hi Tattler,

    You articles are quite well written. Think many of us would like to leave a comment here but are impeded by the system. Maybe u should put up a guide to teach ur readers how to leave a comment.

  6. It's easy:
    Click on "Comments";
    Select profile - anonymous will do;
    Type in the confirmation code;
    Post comment.

  7. In Singapore,
    please be reminded
    that if You cannot afford,

    Who ask You not to beable to afford?


  8. Its really great article..Thanks for sharing your views

  9. What is affordability?

    In my school days, I have a friend who likes to buy branded goods, he would get branded jeans which cost $300+ (that was in the early 90s)but he comes from a family that is of lower income and he would save on food and everything else to buy the branded clothes. CAN he afford the branded goods?

    A friend of mine bought a car right after graduating and he has to use $1,000 of his take home pay of $1,200 to service his car. Can he afford to buy a car?

    As for medical expenses, can we afford not to pay? Even if we have no more savings and we have to borrow from family and friends, we have to pay the bills. Being able to pay, does it mean we can afford the cost of medical?

  10. There could be Singaporeans borrowing money from loansharks just to afford seeking medical cares to solve their physical sufferings. In so doing, the patients could have committed offences. But, if he/she cannot afford the fees and charges, what are they to do?
    Does it also mean that just because the service providers received the payments, the payers are affordable?

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