NAME AND CONSTITUENCY OF MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
Mr Leong Mun Wai
Non-Constituency Member of Parliament
QUESTION NO. 380
To ask the Minister for Health besides the MediShield Life Council’s recommendation to reduce the proportion of private healthcare bills covered by MediShield Life from 35% to 25%, what other measures can be implemented to control private and public healthcare costs.
Several factors contribute to healthcare cost increases, including our ageing population, medical advancements that can improve life spans and the quality of life, as well as increases in healthcare manpower and other operating costs.
Managing healthcare costs has been a key priority of MOH. To guide private sector doctors and healthcare providers in charging appropriately, and enable patients and payers in making better informed decisions, we started publishing the private sector surgeon fee benchmarks in 2018. This is on top of our regular publication of total bill size for common conditions seen in both the public and private hospitals.
As announced previously, new Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) must require a copayment of not less than 5%, in line with our principle of co-payment in the consumption of healthcare to prevent over-consumption, over-servicing and over-charging which can arise when there is no co-payment required for medical treatment. The MediShield Life Council has also noted the rapidly rising costs of cancer therapies and will be reviewing MediShield Life coverage for such treatment so they can be covered in a more sustainable and affordable manner.
Choosing therapies that are cost-effective and well supported by clinical evidence would help us to stretch our healthcare dollar. We established the Agency for Care Effectiveness (ACE) to evaluate healthcare technologies and issue guidances on drugs and other technologies to share with both the public and private healthcare sectors.
These measures will bear fruit over time. We will need a sustained effort over many years and all stakeholders must play their part and exercise responsibility when choosing and recommending appropriate care.
In the longer term, staying healthy is key to managing healthcare costs. We encourage Singaporeans to lead healthy lifestyles, go for regular health screening as well as receive nationally recommended vaccinations. The Health Promotion Board has been at the forefront of our health promotion efforts. For example, it launched the “Stay Well to Stay Strong” campaign last year to share bite-sized videos and articles with tips on practising good personal hygiene, healthy eating, exercising, and mental well-being. Individuals are also encouraged to go for regular, evidence-based, and subsidised health screening under the Screen for Life programme for early detection and management of chronic diseases, as well as subsidised nationally recommended vaccinations at participating providers such as the Community Health Assist Scheme General Practitioner clinics.
MOH will continue to review our policy and funding measures, to ensure that healthcare treatments remain affordable and sustainable for Singaporeans.