SINGAPORE - In response to a dialogue session where Singaporeans expressed concern over the rising costs of health care here, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong pledged to keep healthcare costs manageable and available to all who need it.
He said that those genuinely unable to pay for their medical bills can seek help from a hospital's medical social worker, reported The Straits Times. Hospitals can help the needy get Medifund aid if required.
The avenues of help are not just available for lower-income patients, Mr Gan said. Those financially better off who face unusually high bills can seek help too.
"Don't be shy about asking for help," he urged Singaporeans.
Help can also be extended for follow-up outpatient treatment is deemed necessary, he added.
On the issue of the $110 million owed to public hospitals, Mr Gan said it is an indication that hospitals' have their priorities straight, where treating patients come first, then collection of payment.
He also clarified that not all the money owed was bad debt, as it included bills being repaid in instalments and amounts owed by deceased patients where the next of kin have difficulty paying.
Mr Gan also highlighted that rising health care costs are a natural product of higher expectations of results from new technology.
He said healthcare inflation usually runs ahead of normal inflation and wage increases.
He advised Singaporeans to stay healthy, be circumspect in their health care expenditure and go for treatment at the appropriate care level to keep healthcare costs in check.
The Government on their part will help in ensuring healthy ageing and ageing-in-place for seniors to continue being assets to society.
On the topic of expanding the use of Medisave to cover more medical costs, Mr Gan said it must be carefully calibrated to ensure the funds do not get depleted and can last a lifetime.