Coping with exorbitant medical costs ….

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Let me continue with our caveman story. I just met him only yesterday. He shared some of his very interesting real life stories with me. Encik was also present. I’ll try my best to recollect here.

Caveman was beaming with joy when he told me that NEA has decided to issue him a warning instead. They have decided not to proceed a charge of breeding mosquitoes but they remain silent on the improvisation suggested by him. Pls refer to my previous blog on this subject to understand the issue. Link He also told me that ICA has also not decided to proceed a charge of harboring illegal immigrant against him. It seems that Caveman has the habit of getting into trouble with the law. I was curious of his latest case.

Caveman’s 94 year old father is a Malaysian. He is on long term visit pass. Caveman forgotten to renew his social visit pass. Caveman was called up by ICA and investigated. Initially they decided to prefer a charge of harboring illegal immigrant against him since his father is living with him without any valid document or rather expired social visit pass. As usual, he refused to admit to the charge when he was offered a compound fine of $500. Either he paid up or had to go to court to answer to the charge. He was prepared to go jail for that.

Caveman was furious and challenged them to haul him to court for the said charge. How could he harbor his own biological father as an illegal immigrant? Given the fact that his father is already 94 yrs old and still living with him, what kind of illegal immigrant they are talking about? Anyway, any charge ought to be sanctioned by AGC. Do you think AGC is so daft as to proceed with such ridiculous charge? After many visits to ICA with to-ing and fro-ing here and there, they finally decided to waive the charge. A written warning was issued to him instead when he refused to accept the compound fine. As usual, whenever Caveman was in trouble, Encik accompanied him throughout his ordeal. Caveman and Encik are secondary school friends for more than 40 years. They came from Penang here to join the RSAF. They belong to a group of Penang boys who helped built up our formidable air defense system.

Later in the night, Caveman related another interesting story about his 94 year old father. Caveman was drinking plain water throughout the evening and he was definitely sober. Even though Caveman and Encik have become citizens, his 94 year old father is still a Malaysian. As such, Caveman has to keep renewing his long term social visit pass. He had forgotten to renew only once and that got him into trouble with ICA. The problem is that ICA like any other govt agency just go by the rule book. They just don’t bother if the illegal immigrant is your own father or to pleas of reason. Anyway, the case is now over. He will have to be careful the next time.

I’m not worried about his brief skirmishes with the law. I am more concern about his next story he’s relating to me. Caveman told me that about 3 yrs ago, his 90 over year old father had a fall resulting in a broken hip. He then summoned Encik who is living nearby to assist him to haul his father to his car to be conveyed to TTSH. Encik was present when Caveman related this incident to me.

Having conveyed his father to TTSH, Caveman was told to pay a deposit of $2,000. When Caveman asked how much would be the ultimate costs of the hip surgery? There is no limit and they wouldn’t know. It could be 10K or even 20K depending on the nature of the case. Caveman was outraged. He refused treatment for his father. He and Encik had to struggle to haul back his father to his car despite warnings given by the doctors that his father needed immediate medical attention. Exasperated, Encik had to call on three young men in the area to assist to haul his nearly immobile father back to the car. On the same day, Caveman whiffed off his own father with Encik in tow to Tun Aminah Hospital in JB.

According to Caveman, it took only 30RM for admission fee. Another 800RM for the piece of metal to be used in the hip surgery which he had to pay immediately in the ward. Lastly, another 300RM for the operation, blood transfusion & tests and other miscellaneous items to be paid at the cashier. Total costs – 1,130RM. That was 3 years ago in a major government hospital in JB. It is simply incredible. I just could not believe him. He had Encik as a witness when he swore it to be the truth. Quite sometime ago, I was told a similar story. My ex-colleague who is a Malaysian working here sent his own father to a government hospital in KL for a stent operation. He only paid less than 1,500RM for the entire operation.

Caveman says that his own father is now as fit as a fiddle. The old man could even walk for about 600 metres from his house to Kovan despite the up gradient slope. Do we need such expensive medical treatment? – in Caveman’s own words.

The question is why our own Singapore being one of the richest countries in the world still charges her own citizens such high medical costs? Nearly every local Singaporean is complaining about the high medical costs despite massive government subsidies. Get warded for a major operation in our government hospital and your CPF will also be wiped out! Ask yourself and look around you to understand what I’m talking about.

Years ago, there was no budget airline. Air travel was never cheap. Very few could afford such luxury until recently when there is a sudden mushroom of budget airlines. For less than $100, one could travel in a plane to any neighboring countries. Even established airlines had to set up budget airlines to cater to this growing segment of consumers. No frills travel where travelers only interested in getting from point A to point B. The objective is the same as the more expensive airlines.

Could we also go along the same principle or business model like those budget airlines? No frills and basic medical attention – budget hospitals? Do we need such expensive and luxurious looking hospitals? We don’t need our government hospitals to look like hotels. Look at the high tech costly screening equipment and the extra guards deployed whenever we visit patients in hospitals. I remember those old hospitals in my younger days – the old Changi hospital, Toa Payoh hospital, TTSH etc. Simple and basic affordable health care where few complained so much about the exorbitant medical costs. Compared to today, we are so much richer than before with so much cash in our CPF, yet we find our present medical costs a huge burden. It’s quite logic defying right?

Common sense tells us that we cannot expect the same medical costs as them but then the gap is simply too huge. That’s the issue. Will it keep on rising to a breaking point?

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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7 Responses to Coping with exorbitant medical costs ….

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 19 May 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  2. lordjulian says:

    great i know where to go for non life threatening emergencies next time, via second link

  3. Alan says:

    Our restuctured hospitals & polyclinics are definitely over designed and they keep changing the layouts every few years as if it is nobody’s business. You go to NUH, SGH, CH, eye & cancer hospital, etc. Almost all of them seem to be under perpectual renovation.

    Would it be a surprise if some $2 company may be involved just like those AIM companies?

  4. Pingback: High healthcare cost in Singapore | Askmelah.com

  5. patriot says:

    Seems like many Sinkies have just discovered schemes that have existed for decades.

    patriot

  6. Alan says:

    I would like to relate a true life incident which happened to my friend who is a low income earner. His wife has a mother who is on a long term dependant’s pass and need to frequently visit Changi Hospital for repeat visits for some follow-up thyroid treatment. For each visit the medical fees comes to around S$600~S$700 including a single blood test and long term medication but there is no subsidy as his mother-in-law is treated as a foreigner.

    What is interesting is that the doctor-in-attendance has told his wife that he will be starting his medical clinic soon and advise them to visit him in private practice saying the fees will be more or less the same but minus the unnecessary queueing. Just wondering whether is it ethical to poach a hospital’s patients, not that Changi Hospital is any charity to begin with ?

  7. The concept of no-frills or rather lack of no-frills public hospital has always baffled me.

    To date, I still cannot understand why there should be different ward class and means testing. Why can’t we simply keep all wards the equivalent of C class, no air con, no TV etc and keep the cost low.
    If one thinks he or she deserves better service and personalised care, by all means to his or her abilities, go private and pay for the exorbitant sum for personalised doctor and medical caregiver with perhaps subscription for World Cup on a huge HDTV.

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