Greed can have little to do with rising healthcare costs, explained Workers’ Party MP Jamus Lim in a Thursday morning (Oct 27) Facebook post.
The Sengkang GRC Member of Parliament praised the country’s healthcare system, he noted that medical costs have risen faster than overall inflation recently, and listed some of the suggestions he brought up in Parliament on how spiralling costs can be controlled.
Assoc Prof Lim wrote in his post the three pillars that have made Singapore’s healthcare successful—Medisave, Medishield, and Medifund, but added that these “only finance a bit more than 8 percent of national health expenses, with most costs still paid for out-of-pocket.”
He also noted the rapid change in the healthcare cost landscape, with the medical inflation rate possibly growing between 7 and 10 per cent.
Earlier this month, the government’s push toward preventative health was discussed in Parliament, which should help curb medical costs.
However, Assoc Prof Lim argued, “improving health cannot be the sole strategy for keeping our medical costs in check. We need to recognize that the economics of healthcare has a tendency to skirt competitive forces, which is the usual way markets keep prices low.”
He outlined the suggestions he has made in order to control the rise in healthcare costs, including the following:
- Improving pricing transparency at clinics and hospitals by requiring doctors to post their multiplier over MOH benchmarks.
- Mandating the carrying over of pre-existing conditions.
- Medishield Life becoming more proactive in bargaining for lower prices.
- Scrutinizing the face value of public charges.
“Hence, when we see recent reports of excess wait times at hospitals (including, alas, in #SengkangGRC General), I worry that this public-private price differential has gotten out of whack,” wrote Assoc Prof Lim.
“We should also recognize that some drivers of rising medical costs have little to do with greedy doctors, patients, hospitals, or insurers.
Record land sales eventually get passed on via higher rents and, in turn, higher medical fees. If we insist on market pricing of land, regardless of function, we invite such price spirals. Land prices indirectly become an implicit tax, and a millstone around the necks of the sick and infirm,” he added.
He also mentioned in his post the nonmedical tools that can be used to curb rising healthcare costs, such as the better integration of information technology systems for insurance claims.
“The bottom line is that there’s unlikely to be a silver bullet for solving our medical cost woes. #HealthySG is one pillar. But we mustn’t place it all on the patient. We can also better design and regulate the healthcare financing market. #makingyourvotecount,: wrote the Sengkang GRC MP.