The Ministry of Health is embarking on a major review in 2013 to ensure that
public health care remains accessible and affordable to Singaporeans.
I hope that the review should involve all sectors of our society in the spirit of
the "National Conversation".
Our current system of paying from health care through many sources, known
as the 3M approach, plus personal savings, should also be reviewed.
We should consider alternative approaches, such as the single payer system, that is used
successfully in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Taiwan.
A single payer system allows better control of the health care bill and reduces
the heavy administrative cost.
An alternative approach, used in Japan and several European countries, allows
a large part of the bill to be paid from a single insurance plan, instead of the
fragmented sources adopted in Singapore.
I have been personally involved in the medical insurance business for a large
part of the past 20 years. I know the practical aspects of managing a national insurance
pooling scheme and also the confusion faced by the patients of dealing with our
current fragmented payment system .
If we have to retain the 3M approach, there is much that can be done to
streamline the system and remove the gaps and inefficiencies that have been created. It
requires the fundamental flaws to be addressed, instead of the "tweaking" approach that
has been adopted in past years.
A group of eminent health care professionals have have put in nine months of study to
produce a paper entitled "SDP national Healthcare Plan: Caring for all citizens". These
professionals have personal experience in the provision of health care, know the underlying
problems and have come out with a possible solution.
I hope that they will be engaged in the review and their proposals should be considered.
Tan Kin Lian