Thursday, March 1, 2012

Want Better Healthcare? Higher Tax!

That is what Tharman said in parliament during the budget debate. If people want better healthcare, medicine and trained medical staff don't fall from the sky, and there would be higher tax!

Wow such a scary ultimatum man. Did it occur to the dear minister that we don't mind paying more tax if there is better healthcare? Wait! Mr IRAS, don't come knocking at my door! I insert caveat now. Although, depends on how much tax more also as I don't want to pay a health tax that is twice half my income tax, just to subsidise for another Mr fat diabetic always-eat-sleep-never-exercise citizen's healthcare bills.

With the population getting older and apprehension of inflation and rising health costs, the Budget promised  medifund and medisave top-ups. Clap. There is more subsidies for patients in community hospitals of 20-50%. Clap clap.They would push out more hospital beds - 1,900 in the general (acute) hospitals and ,1800 beds in the community hospitals. Clap clap clap. To give a rough idea of the scale of the beds being pushed into the wards, Singapore General Hospital has about 1,500 beds. The new Khoo Teck Puat hospital has about 550 beds in comparison. So not a small number of beds, assuming that there is enough healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses, technicians to service the beds. Hand about to clap but stop. More beds so what, if there is not enough attentive doctors and pretty nurses. Nursing isn't something glam for locals as a career and Pinoys and PRC workers would continue to be around in the wards.

However, why didn't the Budget assure for me in healthcare despite the enhanced instruments? The simple fact was that Tharman promised healthcare spending may reach 3.5% of GDP in 2030. 2030, not 2020, not 2015. Also, I despair to think that the foreigners here might stress our healthcare infrastructure just like they stressed housing and transport. Yet, there was no populist gesture of a citizens-first healthcare. Maybe like the more subsidised B and C wards only for citizens? The PAP government just does not seem serious or sincere enough about assuring us in our growing healthcare worry.

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