Photo of Chee Hong Tat from CNA

Speaking in Parliament yesterday (Jan 9), Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat claimed that the government have halved healthcare inflation by half in the 5 years between 2011 and 2016. Making selective comparison with OECD nations (which Singapore is not a member of), Minister Chee Hong Tat praised government policies for the “achievement”:

“Recent initiatives such as the Pioneer Generation Package, the Community Health Assistance Scheme, and subsidies for MediShield Life have halved Singapore’s healthcare inflation rate down to about 1.2 per cent, bringing it below the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 1.6 per cent.”

However in terms of healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP, the Singapore government spent the lowest at 4.9%, while OECD nations spend 12.9%.

Blaming the ageing population, Minister Chee Hong Tat said healthcare costs had increased by more than 60% between 2011 and 2015, from S$11.5 billion to S$18.8 billion. The Minister signalled for the need for a tax increase telling Singaporeans that they “need to work together” to pay for the increase:

“It is inevitable that our total spending on healthcare will increase further. All stakeholders to work together in close partnership.”

Singapore’s healthcare costs are largely paid through Singaporeans’ contributions in the CPF and premiums payment in the nationalised insurance scheme, Medishield Life. Medishield Life, however, has been managed without transparency by the ruling party government with Singaporeans having to pay premiums 3 times more as “pre-funding”. The government has also been using Medishield Life insurance to reduce their liabilities on healthcare assistance scheme, Medifund.