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Most Singaporeans Unfamiliar with Healthcare Financing Schemes

Photo: Council for the 3rd Age (www.c3a.org.sg)

 Healthcare Financing - textboxJust how much do we know about Singapore’s healthcare financing framework? Not very much at all, it seems, according to a recent study conducted by a team of medical students at the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine.

Led by Professor Fong Ngan Phoon from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, the team randomly sampled 748 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents to find out the knowledge and perceptions held toward healthcare financing.

The survey revealed that the Singaporean public is mostly unfamiliar with healthcare financing schemes like Medisave, MediShield and Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). While 63.6% were familiar with MediSave, only 18.9% and 8.6% were familiar with MediShield and CHAS respectively, perhaps owing to the more recent implementation of these schemes.

The lack of basic knowledge on healthcare financing may affect one’s ability to properly plan, utilise and pay for healthcare.

The Price of Healthcare

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The study findings also showed that despite a recent overhaul to the framework, the general sentiment was that healthcare costs are expensive, current schemes are restrictive and more government intervention is needed to offset rising costs. While a large majority of the respondents (90%) agreed that healthcare financing was their personal responsibility, only 48% of respondents expressed confidence in being able to afford healthcare in the future, citing high out-of-pocket costs as the reason.

In fact, expensive healthcare costs is one of the main reasons driving lack of confidence and satisfaction towards Singapore’s healthcare financing framework, with at least 72% of participants indicating that they found hospitalisation, day surgery and chronic disease follow-up procedures costly.

These findings could indicate a need to reconsider healthcare financing policies with regards to affordability, scheme limitations, confidence to afford healthcare bills, and expectations on where healthcare expenditure should come from.

 

Illustration: www.cpf.gov.sg

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