Friday, August 23, 2013

Medi-genies to tame our healthcare costs and 6.9 population

At NDR on healthcare, LHL rubbed the Medi-lamps for the Medisave and MediShield genies to appear in a puff, hoping they will at least pretend to solve the issue of healthcare costs. And he now produces the latest genie by the name of MediShield Life as his assurance to resolve our healthcare concerns.

On health care, MediShield coverage will extend beyond the age of 90 and as well as extending the coverage to the young and old with pre-existing conditions. And finally acknowledging the contributions made by our pioneers in the form of Pioneer Generation Package. After 48 years of nation building. Came too late for some.

Individuals in curbing healthcare costs

Healthcare is one of the hot button issues during GE 2011. And it is still.

We worry about the healthcare costs not because we expect healthcare to be free but because the pace of its inflation outstripping the pace of our savings is very, very real. Savings are getting increasingly challenging with stubborn inflation and meagre savings rate.

Not that we are all irresponsible and deliberately get ourselves sick. Neither are all of us splurging on every cent that we earned. For those who do spend all their earnings, the truth is that there are simply those whose incomes are too small to cover all their daily expenses. There are some whose savings will not suffice for the increasing heathcare costs for three generations—their offsprings, their aging parents and themselves. Even going back to the days of having three meals of plain rice with soya sauce and drink only plain water contribute very little to the savings for healthcare in today’s inflation rate and negligible savings interest rate.

Btw, neither keeping a healthy lifestyle can insulate us against the inevitable of falling sick. LHL himself was once a cancer patient. Are we to blame his failure for keeping a healthy lifestyle?

The Medi-genies disguise

There is no disguise that LHL’s Medi-genies is a means of organizing our compulsory savings (in the form of Medisave) for heathcare and enforcing individuals for preparedness (through MediShield or MediShield Life). The genies DO NOT address the healthcare cost itself, and does nothing in curbing or reducing the costs at all.

The scale and scope of heathcare cost is something beyond the individuals’ ability to control and to resolve. Individuals could only buffer themselves against the rising costs of healthcare with savings. Therefore, it is logical and an obligation for government to channel sufficient funds to healthcare in curbing rising costs.

Apart from the Pioneer Generation Package where premiums will be borne by the government for our seniors which is laudable, MediShield Life genie however will bring about higher premiums for the rest of us.

Higher premiums naturally provide better heathcare coverage and services, not some rocket science, and those who worry about heathcare costs and who could afford would have already done so. And precisely the worry of the costs drives people into buying higher premiums for more extensive coverage. Whichever way looking at it, higher premiums do not address the cost issue.

Govt shies from taming the costs

Extending MediShield Life to those with pre-existing conditions is another piece of good news.

But his exactwords of the MediShield Life’s premiums will have to be higher. It has to be, because it has to break even….” is so deafening that it completely erodes the empathy that he is trying so hard to portray and overshadows the few positive changes that he brings.

His implication is significant. He expects his people themselves to pay for his “empathy”. Don’t expect him to dig into government’s pocket to fork out an extra cent on the healthcare of our people.

YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. That was the hidden message.

For where do we find the money to fund these “empathy”? It sounds like a Nigerian scam.

That takes us to another question before we can answer the first one: where have all our money gone to? Where did the bulk of wealth of our GDP flow to? In the last decade, we have 9 our of 10 years positive GDP growth between 2002 and 2011. 

I am not suggesting that we spend every single cent of our revenue or future savings but re-allocate from other expenditures in our budget to healthcare, or channel some amount from the our GDP growth into healthcare. If we don’t spend enough on our people now, how are we to proceed from here to the future? If we don’t take care of our people, who are we defending for through our national defence? And who will benefit our future savings from what we scrimp and save now?

Don’t forget that Singaporeans will be reduced to a 55% in our home nation in the very near future.

Using his Medi-genies to allay our healthcare cost concerns and cleverly avoids tackling the issue of healthcare costs depicts LHL’s political will in improving the lives of his people.

The government “does not have a magic source from heaven”, he said and simply relinquished the responsibility of his.

Healthcare expenditure for the 6.9million population

We know that our government is not spending sufficient money in our healthcare compared to other advanced economies despite achieving impressive GDP per capita growth which overtook Switzerland….that was how we achieved our “Swiss standard of living”.

We will increase healthcare spending…LHL did mention increasing healthcare spending.

It brings no assurance, contrary to what he thinks. The 6.9 million population is looming and he is executing the population plan with his Paya Lebar plot of land.

Between 2004 to 2011, LHL has grown 1 million of people on to this island. Did our healthcare spending grow proportionately?

As such, without any specific knowing to the extent of that increase healthcare spending he has in mind, we might be sharing the “increase”, adequately or inadequately, with additional 1.6 million (assuming current population remains at 5.3 million). The worse case scenario would be the existing healthcare quality and costs will persist and the worst case scenario will be a further deterioration of future healthcare quality and further exacerbation of healthcare costs.

Given the existing problems in housing, transport and healthcare resulting from a money-driven value where LHL and his gang tries to grow the biggest GDP/population with the least spending, exactly the likes of SMRT that maximizes profits and scrimps on maintenance, his NDR 2013 assurance that our future healthcare is well-taken care is not at all convincing.

One’s value does not change overnight, even with the pressures at the ballot box.

“If we should fall seriously ill, can I afford the hospital bill if I have a very big hospital bill? In reality, there are very few such cases.” That is LHL’s reality on our healthcare costs.

From tsunamis to pioneers for political survival

 “…we owe it to them.”

And the pressure on his votes is apparent as LHL changed his tune on the seniors whom he described disdainfully in 2011 as “silver tsunamis” has been conveniently been corrected to “pioneers”.  The “silver tsunamis” was so catastrophic that he has to open our immigration doors to more foreign adults and aged to sink their roots here.

Overnight, our seniors who were perceived as parasites became the contributors to our nation.

Tomorrow, I will wake up, not knowing whether I will be a parasite or a sheep to this nation of mine.