Singapore To Revamp Public Health Subsidy System Amid Ageing Population

The planned change in Singapore’s inpatient and outpatient subsidies by the middle of 2022 will give bigger subsidies to lower-income patients.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — Singapore will undertake a major revision of its public health care subsidy framework by mid-next year to benefit the lower income amid a growing ageing population.

Fitch Solutions, an independent market research firm, noted that Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has decided to revise subsidies, both inpatient and outpatient, in acute and community hospitals, specialist outpatient clinics, and for day surgery.

There will be just one subsidy range for two subsidised ward classes — from 50 to 80 per cent — where lower-income patients opting for a lower-class ward will get higher subsidies under the new structure, whereas higher-income patients in a higher-class ward will get smaller subsidies. The lowest quintile of income earners, said Fitch Solutions, already gets the lion’s share of subsidies at 37 per cent in 2018.

“Changes to the subsidy system will further tilt the financial help in their favour. Hospital subsidies will change from being based on an individual’s income to per capita household income to reflect the number of people dependent on that person’s income,” said Fitch Solutions in a report last Friday.

Singapore’s Health Minister has announced plans to develop child and maternal health and well-being strategy that will span pre-conception to 18 years of age. Singapore is also spending SG$180 million (RM554 million) to roll out more than 200 aged care centres in the country. 

Singapore as an ageing nation is facing an increase in demand for innovative medicines and better accessibility to new health care technologies, Fitch Solutions added.

The country’s health care expenditure will continue to increase, largely due to the development of new health care facilities and their operational cost.

“Singaporeans are also utilising more healthcare than in the past which is partly the result of making care more accessible and affordable to all, and partly due to earlier diagnosis and closer monitoring and follow-ups for medical conditions,” said Fitch Solutions.

As the country has a bigger aged population over time, Singapore is also focusing on the greater prevalence of chronic diseases. Besides that, Singaporeans are also more insightful on technologies in the health care industry.

Singapore is moving towards more home-based care and a less hospital-centric approach, amid an ageing population and medical facility constraints, which will lead to increased telecare in the developed country with rising mobile phone usage.

Although internet-based medical services like telecare is not an alien concept in Singapore, the growth of these fields has sped up over the past years.

Fitch Solutions said telecare industry players would get strong business opportunities particularly in outpatient care, where medical care can be provided remotely through technology and patients can be equipped with devices to manage conditions like respiratory diseases at home.

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