Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hospital bills up 10% to 30% across all ward classes!

This is crazy. The Ministry of Health had already known that the average hospital bills for the class C wards had increased by nearly 30%, they still want to implement means testing on Singaporeans who wanted to stay in class C wards?!

Now, who wouldn't want to stay in better wards when they are suffering for serious illnesses like cancer if he or she can afford it?

The only reason why more and more Singaporeans are choosing to stay in class C wards for serious illness is because they are increasingly unable to afford stay in better class of wards!

And now instead of thinking of ways to reduce the medical burdens of Singaporeans, our dear govt wanted to means test Singaporeans?

Don't tell me that there isn't enough money for an ESSENTIAL NEED when they had just raised BOTH GST and their own salaries!

Add on:

I would like more Singaporeans to watch this video and think about the points Tony Benn made.




Hospital bills up 10% to 30% across all ward classes
By Tan Hui Leng, TODAY | Posted: 25 July 2007 1100 hrs

AVERAGE public hospital bills have increased across all ward classes from 2005 to 2006, with the hikes ranging from 10 to 30 per cent.

The Ministry of Health's (MOH) data showed that the average bill size for a class C ward cost $1,112 last year — up 29.6 per cent from $858 the year before.

As for B2 class wards, it went up 17.4 per cent from $1,094 to $1,284.

The higher ward classes of B1 and A registered smaller hikes of 16.7 and 10.3 per cent respectively.

The B1 wards increased from $2,736 to $3,193 and the A wards went up from $3,473 to $3,830.

An MOH spokeswoman attributed the big C-class increases to the inclusion of Intensive Care Unit patients in last year's data, medical inflation and the fact that more patients with complex medical conditions chose to be admitted to C class wards.

In the C class wards, which are 80-per-cent subsidised, 1 per cent of patients paid $9,071 or more — even higher than their counterparts in the B2-class wards, who paid $8,813 or more.

Speaking at the opening of the Wonca (World Organization of Family Doctors) World Conference yesterday, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan described hospital bills here as "relatively inexpensive" for the high medical standards patients are getting.

With Medisave and MediShield, almost all patients can afford these bills, Mr Khaw added.

"The Ministry will continue to manage medical inflation without compromising the quality of patient care," said the MOH spokeswoman. "We will use market forces, where appropriate, to manage medical costs — for example, through publishing bill sizes and quality indicators.

She added: "This will allow Singaporeans to make informed choices on where to seek treatment and provide transparent benchmarks on the comparative efficiency of healthcare providers." - TODAY/ra

3 Comments:

At 1:02 PM, July 26, 2007, Blogger BK Blooger said...

Hi! I believe that 30% increase is not a move to increase prices but rather that average prices have increased based on the data from 2005 - 2006. So it's more like a bill summary thing, indicating that more people staying in what wards are spending more etc. I believe the news article did mention something that intensive care and other medical services were the prime factors for the increase. (I think either in Today or in Straits Time. I remember reading something about it.)

Another thing about means testing. My friend mentioned to me that means testing would only do good as opposed to harm because:
1) The overall spending on healthcare is not going to be decreased. So this means that any grants/subsidies not approved for one family will go to another family instead.

2) It's to prevent people who can afford to pay more for higher rated wards to stay there instead of taking up ward space in the C Class wards which the people who really need them, well need them. (basically, if you and me are able to come online to post such reviews and voice out such concerns, we aren't poor enough to qualify for the C class wards. We have the resources to stay at higher rated wards though the cost would still hit us but not to the extent that it would affect our survival.)



That being said, I still disagree with the MOH on means testing too because it is a short term solution to a long-term problem. If there aren't enough wards to go around, it means you need more. Pushing people up to higher ward classes could mean that there's no demand for them and so the hospital is bleeding money from the unoccupied beds (so ho ho ho middle class can squeeze so we squeeze them somemore). Building more C class wards would help alieviate the space problem but in dollars and cents, it does no good for the hospitals. But then again, isn't dollars and cents what Singapore is built on?


Btw: The ministerial salary raise is ridiculous but unfortunately also irrelevant to this discussion. They are two separate issues and need to be dealth with separately. Else everything will become grey. Interconnectivity in arguments is = no conclusion one cos too many factors to computate.

 
At 2:08 PM, July 26, 2007, Blogger at82 said...

Hi Bk blogger,

Welcome to my blog. Let us discuss this pt by pt :)

On your 1st point, the MOH spokeman himself admitted that medical inflation played a part in the increase in medical costs. Given that any increase in cost for people with complicated condition will increase their hospital significantly, it is not hard to understand why Singaporeans with serious illness chose Class C wards. Can you imagine what the cost will be like if they chose a better ward when it is already so costly for class C wards?

2nd pt. In the current sys all Singaporeans are charged the according to class of ward they chose so there is no rejection problem, unless there is a shortage of beds. There is no mention whatsoever from anyone that poorer Singaporeans will get more subsidies if means testing is introduced. So what makes you so sure that poorer Singaporeans will get more subsidies than what they currently have?

3rd pt. In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that rich people will choose Class C wards. The shortage of class C wards are just as likely to be caused by the significant increase in population in Singapore. From my own limited experience, foreigners workers take up a significant number class C beds, the only solution to this problem is to increase supply of class C beds.
Moreover the people who are downgrading to class C wards are usually average middle class Singaporeans, who are not poor but can be MADE poor by the hefty medical bills when they suffer from complicated medical conditions. Medical bills for medical conditions like cancer can easily hit tens of thousands in better wards.

Anyway I am glad that we agree on the pt that more medical facilities should be built and I hope that the new hospital in the north will come up quickly. Afterall if we want a population of 6.5m we must have enough the medical facilities to cope with the bigger population.

The point on minister salary is that, if they can increase their own salaries while increasing GST there is no reason to say that they have to reduce subsidies on such an costly but essential need because the money is definitely available it is just the way they chose to spend it.

 
At 1:07 AM, October 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch 'Sicko' by Michael Moore...let's just hope the system doesn't turn into HMOs like in America

 

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