Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is telling only half the truth whenever he sings his favourite phrase: “Healthcare spending is increasing because of an ageing population.”
The reason why the government is spending more on healthcare must first begets what is the government spending on?
A check on the 2018 Budget expenditures revealed a little (no detail is given) with a bulk bill of S$5.64 billion :
1) Government grants, aka subventions, to hospitals and healthcare institutions
2) Voluntary Welfare Organisations – the charity organisations offering senior care for the elderly poor who live in subsidised rental studio housing
A bulk of another SS$3 billion is spent in Medishield Life subsidies and financial assistance like MediFund to the poor. These all added up to at least S$8.6 billion of the total S$10.4 billion healthcare expenditures.
How much did the Ministry of Health spend on the poor? Nobody knows, but since more Singaporeans qualify for subsidies it only means one thing: there are more poor people in Singapore.
Before the rabid-biting PAP supporters dismiss this as fake news, refer them to some of the healthcare subsidies available here, here, here and here. The idea is that the lower your monthly income is, healthcare expenditures will increase.
However, another key reason behind increased healthcare spending is because many rich people (household per capita income above S$3,200) are opting for subsidised healthcare like C-class hospital beds. In 2000, 26 per cent of all public hospital patients opted for C-class. In 2014, 46% went for C-class wards. Again, if you ask me so how much more are the rich spending compared to a decade ago, I don’t know. The Ministry of Health has one of the most obscured financials next to the CPF and the national reserves. They hide details like insurance funds, insurance payouts, subsidies breakdowns and report bulk figures in billions to make sure people like Alex Tan have no material to write on.
Poverty is an acute problem in Singapore, and it is worsened by censorship and official fake news to make-pretend a squeaky clean image of Singapore. These people do not have enough income to chalk up enough Medisave, or pay for the MediShield Life insurance, and hence they need healthcare assistance. The elderly poor earning S$1,000 a month for the past 20 years certainly wouldn’t be able to afford S$4,000 a month in aged care facilities, so they need government assistance. If you ask me, I would say poverty is also the main reason behind low birth rate, long working hours, inadequate retirement payout and a myriad of social problems but that is a topic for another day.
Singapore’s increased healthcare spending is largely due to the poor, and increasing the GST by 2% to pay for healthcare spending is essentially an oxymoron because the poor is going to get poorer with the GST increase and need higher healthcare subsidies. The Singapore government is either ignorant of this vicious cycle or deliberately entrapping the poor into believing that they are getting more assistance from their benevolent dictatorship.
The poor is the culprit behind rising expenditures, but their poverty is exacerbated by the depression of wages and rising cost of living caused by increased taxes. The problem is hence political, and so the natural solution is essentially political.
Unfortunately, many Singaporeans are stuck with a bigger problem and that is critical thinking. Just look at the stupid glee of those PAP supporters getting their S$300 hongbao. They may be businessmen or academics holding first-class honours but I can assure you they are really stupid. States Times Review is running into tens of thousands of losses every year, but it is my national service to educate the public.