Singapore’s Ministry of Health justifies position saying medical needs and expenses differ among individuals

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) said that it is “not meaningful” to focus on average healthcare costs since the medical needs and expenses differ greatly from one individual to another.

The Ministry was responding to a recent study that found that an individual aged 65 and above would need $1,379 a month to cover basic needs. The study, however, had assumed that the individual was in good health and did not include healthcare expenses.

Speaking to the Straits Times, the MOH spokesman said that there are several factors that could affect healthcare costs, such as one’s lifespan, the type of treatment they seek and whether they have severe disabilities or chronic illnesses.

Noting that the Ministry recognises that Singaporeans could be anxious “because they are worried about an unexpected, large healthcare bill,” the spokesman said that MOH have been focusing on keeping healthcare affordable and accessible to all Singaporeans.

He added: “Our healthcare financing system is designed to ensure that no Singaporean, including the elderly, is denied access to appropriate healthcare because they cannot pay.”

Presently, Singaporeans across all care settings receive subsidies of up to 80 per cent while MediShield Life helps protect Singaporeans with or without pre-existing conditions from hefty hospitalisation bills and certain costly outpatient treatments for life.

The Government’s Eldershield and Careshield Life schemes also provide monthly cash payouts for those who are severely disabled while the Medifund programme will help those who are still unable to pay for their remaining medical bills.

As of 2011, about four in five senior citizens relied on their adult children as their source of income but this dependence could change, given newer demographic trends. The MOH, which said that the majority of Singaporeans already pay “little or no cash” after subsidies, advised:

“Singaporeans preparing for their families’ healthcare needs in old age should consider the type of care they need and wish for, and the overall adequacy and protection from personal savings, Medisave balances, as well as insurance schemes.”

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