IS SINGAPORE’S ‘PRUDENT’ HEALTHCARE SPENDING GOOD ENOUGH?

This goes out to those people who think that the Singapore government by not seriously subsidizing healthcare costs, is being prudent: http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/07/19/healthcare-im-thankful-we-have-a-prudent-govt-in-sg/

If the above thread was never posted, I might not have replied because I think the Singapore government has passed just barely in this area but nevertheless passed. But if anyone thinks that the Singapore government has done a good job here, they need a loud wake-up call to reality.

Have you heard of the UK’s National Health Service? The NHS was founded in 1948 and is primarily funded through central taxation. The NHS provides a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use for people legally resident in the United Kingdom. We are not talking about subsidized healthcare here, we are talking FREE as in totally without cost!

Years ago when a relative visited England, he had a medical issue and was treated at a hospital in London. At the end of which, he paid absolutely nothing! That was when treatment to citizens of ex-Commonwealth Countries was free. Now that has stopped but the free treatment still applies to those resident in the UK.

A system like the NHS would have financial problems like the Japanese healthcare system and hospitals run by the NHS have closed. Do a simple Google Search and you will find numerous articles about financial problems encountered by the NHS. But guess what? The NHS is still around to this day and believe it or not, hospitals have not vanished from the UK.

In fact, going by statistics from The World Bank, http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.MED.BEDS.ZS, the UK has almost 50% more beds per capita than Singapore! So to put things succinctly, how has “prudence” benefited the healthcare system in Singapore?

Now let me ask a simple question. What is more important? – “Prudent government spending” or allowing citizens access to affordable medical care? If the answer is “prudent government spending”, then bearing in mind that the UK has more than 10 times Singapore’s population but pips Singapore in per capita beds, then one can only conclude that the Singapore government is far less efficient than the UK’s in this area because aside from the fact that there are more available hospital beds in the UK, the UK also provides free healthcare!

The outlook of the NHS is best summed up in this quote from its website:

http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/thenhs/about/Pages/overview.aspx

“The NHS in England is undergoing some big changes, most of which will take effect on April 1 2013. This will include the abolition of primary care trusts (PCTs) and strategic health authorities (SHAs) and the introduction of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and Healthwatch England.

However, none of this will have an effect on how you access front-line
services and your healthcare will remain free at the point of use.”

As you can see, financial struggles are very much a part of the NHS’s daily operational considerations. But in spite of that, they have kept things better than the Singapore healthcare system because to the UK government and most other democratically elected governments, the welfare of those that vote for them is far more important than maintaining a “prudent” government budget.

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