Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan indicated that it is “miserable” for the Government when a higher proportion of the elderly suffer falls. Interestingly, he did not say that this was because of the concern over the health and wellbeing of the elderly.
Instead, he said that it is “miserable” to the Government when a higher proportion of senior citizens suffer falls “because when you stay two weeks in the hospital, it is a lot of subsidy.”
66-year-old Khaw made these comments as he attended his very first grassroots event in Sembawang GRC after he was hospitalised after suffering a fall and fracturing his left arm.
The ruling party politician revealed at the event that he fell after he got up too quickly from his bed to use the washroom at night. Sharing that the bad fall resulted in a fracture on his left arm, Khaw said:
“I have never experienced so much pain! The doctors told me this type of fracture, the pain is more painful than delivering babies, but I said I don’t know because I never had that experience. But I can tell you it is very painful.”
Khaw, who is still on extended medical leave, then took the opportunity to use his experience as a cautionary example for his constituents. He said: “Those of you working, especially in the toilet, in the bathroom, or if you are working in the kitchen and it is very slippery, be very careful.”
Sharing that one in three Singaporeans above the age of 65 suffer from falls, Khaw added: “That is a very high frequency. It is miserable for yourself, for your family and also to the Government because when you stay two weeks in the hospital, it is a lot of subsidy. The best thing is to not fall.”
Khaw failed to mention that Singapore is the nation where patients pay the most out-of-pocket expenditures for medical treatment, among the seven countries that were identified by Newsweek in a recent survey to have the top ten best hospitals in the world.
According to the World Bank, a hefty 36.7 per cent of a Singapore patient’s total health expenditure is paid out-of-pocket. In the US, Germany, Japan and Canada, patients pay 11.1 per cent, 12.5 per cent, 13.1 per cent and 14.6 per cent respectively out-of-pocket.
Among the seven countries that house the top ten hospitals, as identified by Newsweek, Israel (24.4 per cent) and Switzerland (28.4 per cent) come the closest to matching Singapore’s out-of-pocket expenditure percentage.
Interestingly, Singapore’s out-of-pocket expenditure percentage is higher than the average out-of-pocket health expenditure incurred in the East Asia and Pacific regions, which is 26.1 per cent.
Even when the World Bank removed high-income countries from these areas, the average out-of-pocket health expenditure of 33.5 per cent incurred in just the developing countries in the East Asia and Pacific regions is still lower than what people in Singapore pay out-of-pocket, on average.