Home » Technology increases cost but magnitude of healthcare inflation cannot be predicted: Dr Koh

Technology increases cost but magnitude of healthcare inflation cannot be predicted: Dr Koh

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Healthcare inflation takes into account many unforeseen kinds of variables and it is difficult to predict the kinds of technologies that will drive clinical practice in the future, Dr Koh Poh Koon said in Parliament.

HEALTHCARE INFLATION AND TECHNOLOGY

In the past, for example, a patient with a head injury would be sent for an X-ray that would cost $15 to $20. However, an X-ray would not indicate if the patient had bleeding in the brain or traumatic soft tissue injury.

Today, it is “almost unthinkable” for a patient with a serious head injury not to have a CT scan, Dr Koh said.  But this scan costs hundreds of dollars. It is a multiple-fold increase in cost compared to X-rays.

Dr Koh was giving an example of how healthcare cost increases with technology.  

There are many unforeseen variables in healthcare inflation.  It is difficult to predict the kinds of technologies that will drive clinical practice in the future.  Hence, it is not possible to predict the magnitude of inflation in healthcare ahead of time.

Premiums collected have to cover current and future payouts. They must include amounts set aside to support future commitments. They must provide a buffer against unforeseen contingencies such as unexpected spikes in hospitalizations due to disease outbreaks.

People want the best possible treatment for the best possible outcome. But this also comes with increased cost. This is why premiums need to be adjusted and MediShield Life refreshed to increase the claim limits per year. This will ensure that Singaporeans continue to be protected from large hospital bills.

MEDISHIELD LIFE COMPARED TO HONG KONG’S GOVERNMENT-BACKED VOLUNTARY HEALTH INSURANCE SCHEME

Compared to the Hong Kong’s Government-backed Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme, the revised MediShield Life premiums are 76% lower on average, across all age bands, Dr Koh said.

“Even before subsidies, our premiums for universal coverage – all conditions, for life, no exclusion – is already much cheaper than the one that Hong Kong has,” said Dr Koh.

MEDISHIELD LIFE PREMIUMS ARE AFFORDABLE

For the Pioneer Generation, MediShield Life is virtually free as they enjoy additional subsidies and MediSave top-ups.

The Government provides subsidies of up to 50% for lower and middle-income households.

Merdeka Generation seniors receive additional subsidies of up to 10% on top of these premium subsidies.

“Taken together, about 35% of total premiums were paid by the Government through various subsidies and support in 2019. For the elderly aged 65 and above, the contribution from the Government is higher, at about 50% of their premiums,” Dr Koh said.

NO SINGAPOREAN WILL LOSE THEIR MEDISHIELD LIFE COVERAGE

No Singaporean will lose their MediShield Life coverage, or be denied access to appropriate care, because of an inability to pay their premiums, Dr Koh said.

Singaporeans who continue to face difficulties even after subsidies can apply for Additional Premium Support. The Additional Premium Support will cover all outstanding premiums as well as future premiums, said Dr Koh.

COVID-19 SUBSIDY FOR ALL SINGAPOREANS FOR 2 YEARS

Taking into account the difficult economic time arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government will provide substantial subsidies for 2 years to all Singaporeans.

In the first year, the Government will subsidise 70% of the net increase in premiums. This will be followed by 30% in the second year.

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