Ensuring the right products and options for patients

The Business Times
View From The Top
Published: 24 Oct 2016

How far would the Health Insurance Task Force’s proposals go to rein in rising healthcare costs?

IT is indeed worrying that Singapore’s healthcare expenditure has more than doubled from S$4.7 billion in 2012 to S$11 billion this year.

Our ageing population is the key factor contributing to rising healthcare costs.

Another contributing factor is inappropriate or excessive treatment. This tends to occur due to the prevalence of IPs – private insurance plans for hospitalisation – with many people buying “riders” that may cover the entire hospital bill without the patient needing to pay anything for the treatments.

Hence, there may be a tendency for patients to undergo more tests and treatments than absolutely necessary. This pushes up healthcare costs for everyone, including insurance premiums.

The Task Force’s proposal to include a co-insurance and/or deductibles (currently covered by riders) to ensure some co-payment by the insured should help to moderate rising costs in theory. However, with costs already so high, the public may not react well to this proposal as they will have to fork out upfront cash payments that might otherwise have been covered by their insurance plans.

The proposal to educate consumers on healthcare options to reduce the occurrence of excessive treatment seems a more palatable option and this should go in tandem with the authorities continuing to promote active lifestyles. With a healthier population, there will be less strain on the healthcare system.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd