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Valuable Lessons To Learn From Singapore’s Healthcare System

Despite spending trillions on the healthcare system, the USA still couldn’t come up with a plan to curtail its astounding health costs. While several other countries are doing it quite effectively, the question arises: why can’t the USA emulate those countries and come up with a better system that would suit everyone’s healthcare needs? Cuba, being a much smaller and poorer country, has been able to nail it and so has Singapore. The amount spent on each person for healthcare is significantly less than in the USA. The country actually requires the citizens to pay most of their medical cost, but unlike other rich countries, they keep the prices lower. Here is how they make it possible:

Private And Public

Singapore got its independence from the British in 1959. Back then, its healthcare system was based on the UK’s National Health Service ( NHS). Public hospitals were free of cost. After independence though, things started changing. Almost nothing was free of cost even in government and public clinics and hospitals, but the prices were lower. At the same time, the government introduced private insurance as well. In fact, the private healthcare business is thriving in Singapore as it receives several medical tourists from Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Most Singaporeans go for private primary care doctors. However, those in the lower income group go to public clinics.

Compulsory Savings And Insurance

Workers usually have their personal Medisave accounts, where they must put money every month. Additionally, employers match their savings. This money is exempted from tax and can be used for hospitalization, medical costs, and health insurance for the worker and his family. For prolonged illnesses though, they need to sign up for Medishield which is mandatory. It is a low-cost insurance program that covers illnesses that the Medisave account doesn’t include. Medishield works much like the Affordable Care Act plans in the USA.

Help From Government

When Medishield and Medisave accounts are not enough, the government steps in. Dental work, as well as chronic and acute diseases, are usually covered. There are also special funds to cover childcare and prenatal care especially for those who cannot afford the cost of treatment. Home services for those with limited mobility and long-term care for seniors can also be arranged. Subsidized care in private nursing homes is also good in case you can’t pay the bills. It works a bit like Medicaid in the USA.

How The Local Government Controls Cost

Singapore’s healthcare is strictly controlled by the government. The government sets limits on the bills and the number of services you can take. For instance, advanced diagnostic services have a waiting time if you want to pay through your Medisave or Medishield. With the correct referral, you can get subsidized treatment from a specialist. The government also controls the maximum limit of the amount a provider can get from a Medisave account. On top of it, the health ministry keeps a tab on the bills issued by hospitals, providers, and clinics. If they see something amiss or if they feel the provider is charging for excessive treatment, then they raise the alarm. The cost of procedures at each hospital is usually revealed by the government. This increases competitiveness and also keeps the whole system transparent. In fact, if private doctors charge more than necessary, they are condemned publicly.

Also, the local government agencies buy all the drugs, medical equipment, and other necessary supplies which help in keeping the prices lower. In the USA, only the Veteran’s Association and Medicaid allow people to buy drugs at a lower cost. The healthcare system is not complicated at all; all they need to do is visit one website and calculate how much they need to pay and how much their insurance and savings account will cover.

If you didn’t know, the best healthcare system in the world belongs to Germany and Switzerland. Several other countries that have been under colonial influence still go with the NHS. However, there are plenty of issues there, too. Singapore has emerged as a strong player in the field of healthcare, but a lack of data makes it somewhat weak. The main takeaway from the whole discussion is that the USA needs to concentrate not just on expanding insurance coverage. Hopefully, the USA can learn a thing or two from Singapore.

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