According to a recent NTUC Income survey of 1000 Singaporeans, “8 in 10 Singaporeans are worried about growing old”. And rightly so because of our exorbitant healthcare costs and obstacles placed by PAP to access government ‘assistance’.
Instead of addressing the issue head on, PAP’s propaganda machine frames it as “Growing old: Should you be worried?”. The article then went on to list the positive actions taken by various organisations which of course implied that no one should be worried.
Among developed countries, Singapore’s expenditure on healthcare as a percentage of GDP, has always been right at the bottom. This is because PAP prioritises profitability over the well being of citizens and channel billions into GIC for investment instead of investing in the well being of citizens. It’s a shame for the PAP to have spent even less than countries like Uganda and Ukraine and our miserable 4.9% of GDP healthcare expenditure is less than half of Sierra Leone’s and only a third of Tuvalu’s.
Is our population not one that is rapidly ageing? Do baby boomers who started turning 65 since 2012 not require the government to increase healthcare expenditures? Or are our GDP figures as fake as Nisha’s MBA?
In 2011, MOH announced a miracle: it was “Achieving more with less – Singapore’s healthcare expenditure”. With healthcare expenditure at only 4% of GDP, Singapore managed to achieve similar outcomes as UK and US which had to spend 8% and 16% respectively. This implied most countries were reckless in spending tax dollars and MOH should be the yardstick for every country.
But the fact is MOH was sacrificing Singaporeans’ well being, ie it did not increase even a single hospital bed while our population steadily increased by 1 million during the decade. And patients had to wait for months, some more than a year, to see a doctor in a public hospital. Achieving similar outcomes with less?
In reframing the issue, ST has insulted elderly Singaporeans: they have nothing better to do but worry ceaselessly about healthcare costs.
By spending a minimal amount on healthcare, PAP has shifted the government’s obligations to citizens. The fundamental principles underlying Singapore’s welfare system are often cited for the government to spend minimally on our benefits:
– Personal responsibility
– Family responsibility
– State responsibility.
This clearly is wrong for obvious reasons. As a citizen and taxpayer, is it not the government’s responsibility to take care of my needs at my time of need? Why shift the responsibility to family members who may not be on good terms with one another and assistance won’t be forthcoming? By shifting the government’s responsibility to family members, wouldn’t that create another set of problems for those who render help but subsequently need to seek help themselves as a result?
The “fundamental principles” have certainly worked, but it’s only for the rich. For example, wealthy citizens like Khaw Boon Wan was able to pay thousand$ in yearly insurance premiums for a major operation and enjoy his stay in an ‘A’ ward costing him a grand total of … only 8 bucks. For all we know, he could have taken up another rider and earned some side income during his hospitalisation.
Unlike Khaw, most citizens are not able to afford such insurance premiums and are therefore worried about healthcare costs when we grow old. Very worried in fact because a similar operation will set us back by thousands of dollars.
The issue of increasing healthcare expenditures should have been a non issue. This is because PAP has already planned for this and accumulated hundreds of billions in our reserves for such a rainy day. For thousands of citizens hospitalised for months or bedridden for years, it has been raining cats and dogs. Why is the PAP reluctant to spend when it should? What happened to the returns earned from investing hundreds of billions in our reserves?
Were Temasek’s stratospheric returns all a lie?
The problem has always been PAP generously allocating tens of billion$ to Temasek and GIC: it would rather invest in assets yielding financial returns than invest in our healthcare.
According to PAP, Singaporeans shouldn’t have to worry about healthcare costs because Medisave, MediShield and Medifund should have taken care of our every need. But in reality, it’s “you die your own business”. Talk is cheap and ordinary lives are even cheaper.
PAP should cease all propaganda on ageing/healthcare issues and focus on implementing policies which truly benefit the people. Stop channeling billions into GIC and don’t attempt to hoodwink Singaporeans because it is self insulting to the journalists churning out the propaganda.