Sunday, 6 May 2012

Health Cost

Rising cost blamed for fee increases at public hospitals

In the past six months, other public hospitals and several specialist medical centres also increased their out-patient consultation fees, Lianhe Zaobao reported.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, National University Hospital and KK Women's and Children's Hospital increased their fees at the end of last year. Singapore General Hospital, the Institute of Mental Health, Alexandra Hospital and Changi General Hospital increased their fees earlier this year.

The Chinese language newspaper checked with the eight public hospitals and found that the increases were not uniform.

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Near 200 complaints received on quality of medical services: Minister

Between 2009 and 2011, 189 complaints were made against the quality of medical services offered here, revealed Minster of Health Mr Gan Kim Yong in Parliament.

He was replying in a written answer to a question by Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC Ms Sylvia Lim, who was seeking clarification on how complaints submitted to the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) are handled. Mr Gan said that of the 189 cases, the Complaints Committees took the following actions: 77 doctors were issued letters of advice, 11 doctors were issued letters of warning and 10 doctors were referred to the Disciplinary Committee or Tribunal.

There were 38 appeals to the Minister, of which 18 were for cases that were dismissed and another 18 for cases in which letters of advice were given.

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More healthcare expenditure means higher taxes: Tharman

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in Parliament on Thursday that higher healthcare expenditure will require higher taxes.

The Straits Times reported that Mr Tharman said he did not like the term 'first world social safety net' used by opposition MP Low Thia Khiang to describe the Budget. He said that the Government is already increasing healthcare expenditure, from 1.5 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product to 3.5 per cent by 2030. But raising healthcare spending up to 6 per cent of the GDP - which is what Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries spend - means that taxes must be raised as well.

Mr Tharman also responded to various other questions brought up by the MPs during the Budget debate, including giving an assurance to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by increasing productivity, investing in jobs and making it possible for workers to have higher wages.

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Singaporeans asking for affordable healthcare, too

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What Tin Pei Ling could teach Dr Lam

(Or “PAP MP calls for welfare for poor, ill PRs: What abt locals?”) After the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced a general reduction of healthcare subsidies for PRs*, the chairman of the GPC for Health, Dr Lam Pin Min publicly said that some PRs may still need further help to adjust to the changes. Dr Lam hoped that the MOH can set up a special fund to help PRs who cannot afford their medical bills and have nowhere to turn to for support.

While Singapore PRs should be glad that there is at least one Singapore MP looking after their interests despite them not having the vote, Dr Lam is peeing on the wrong tree.

He shld know that in S’pore, self-help (including help from family, relations and friends) and, if that fails, aid from charities is what S’poreans in trouble are conditioned to do. The government has always said welfare should be the last resort, not the automatic default. If this is true for true blue S’poreans, why should PRs be any different? PRs tua kee, is it Dr Lam?

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The moral case for health insurance for all

HEALTH insurance is vital for protection against medical bankruptcy. Illness and the often substantial costs associated are unpredictable. Insurance pools monies and enables the many fortunate to support the unfortunate few.

However, voluntary insurance has proven challenging: Healthy individuals opting out of buying insurance reduce the funds available while exclusion of pre-existing conditions by insurers prevents a substantial proportion of society from receiving complete coverage.

Hence, national health insurance covering the entire population through government fiat is increasingly called for throughout the world. Most developed countries already have some form of national health insurance and/or coverage. Even in the United States, Obamacare mandates that all Americans must possess health insurance, and insurers must offer plans even to those with pre-existing medical conditions.

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Challenge to control rising health-care costs

THERE is no such thing as free health care. This is a key tenet that makes Singapore's system among the most cost-effective in the world - and politicians, especially, should take note.

Touching on the hot topic of health-care reform in his keynote speech at a two-day Economist conference on March 30, 2010, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said politicians bore part of the blame for rising costs. They have to tell the truth, and not promise free health care for all if ballooning costs are to be controlled.

In Singapore, patients know they have to shoulder part of the cost for health- care services, and thus look for value for money and do not over-consume.

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Pay rise for healthcare professionals

To help Singapore cope with its rapidly ageing and growing population, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong unveiled the Healthcare 2020 Masterplan yesterday. During the Committee of Supply debate, Mr Gan highlighted measures to deal with challenges in the health-care sector, such as the shortage of hospital beds and the need for more public health-care professionals.

On the issue of manpower, Mr Gan spoke of the need to "retain and attract high-calibre individuals". So, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be rolling out a more competitive pay framework over the next two years, at the cost of $200 million.

The new framework will be implemented in phases and doctors will, on average, see an increase in total compensation of around 20 per cent by 2014.

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Healthcare - Singapore Vs USA

An American compares the systems, notices US spends 7 times more on per capita basis. It’s always worth exploring how health care works in other countries, if for no other reason than that models in other countries give us the chance to see how some of the approaches discussed by American reformers might pan out.

What do the experiences of Germany and Netherlands tell us about the possibility of a better mixed public-private system in the United States? How is China’s health care system a cautionary tale of market forces gone wild?

The answer to these questions can add to—or detract from—the appeal of certain health care strategies in the US. It’s hard to imagine a country that could provide a more valuable example than Singapore. The Southeast Asian city-state is widely regarded as a health care superstar, especially when compared to the United States. Life expectancy at birth in the US is 78 years; in Singapore, it’s 82 years.

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Public hospitals to lease more beds from private hospitals

Public hospitals here will be leasing beds from two of Singapore's largest private hospital groups, in a move calculated to alleviate the soaring demand for treatment and beds at public hospitals. The occupancy rates at public hospitals is at 80 to 90 per cent, while that at private hospitals is at about 55 per cent, The Straits Times reported.

The health ministry has signed an agreement with Changi General Hospital (CGH) to lease some beds from Parkway Pantai group's Parkway East Hospital for subsidised patients, revealed Health Minister Mr Gan Kim Yong during yesterday's parliamentary session.

Thus, patients will be able to stay at Parkway East on subsidised rates while being managed by CGH's doctors.

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Return Our CPF – MediShield Life
Hospitals Facing Severe Bed Crunch
Tweaks in Our SG Healthcare
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Health Cost