Are public hospitals charged for land like HDB flats?

I refer to the article “Singapore Budget 2014 measures “debunk view that health-care is unaffordable”: Khaw” (Straits Times, Feb 23).

My friend AM invited me and Han Hui Hui for lunch at Holland Village today, to talk about the Budget.

Budget’s healthcare focus?

Since the focus of the Budget has been on healthcare affordability and helping Singaporeans in a big way to pay for healthcare  – we kind of gyrated around the following questions:

Why is healthcare so expensive?

Why is healthcare so expensive in Singapore, relative to other Asean and Asian countries?

Why is healthcare inflation so high over the years?

As usual, I called my healthcare insider – and he gave us a clue. Look at the financials on depreciation and amortisation in the annual reports.

$5m surplus for the year? 

So, using the latest annual reports that I can find online – 2012 for the Singhealth Group (SHG) and 2011 for the National Health Group (NHG) – their surplus (revenue minus expenditure) for a year was about $5 million.

Should hospitals operate on “no surplus” basis?

If public hospitals try to operate on a “no surplus” or “deficit with increased funding from the Government” basis – would our healthcare charges be lower?

Depreciation of land costs?

As to the 2 group’s combined depreciation and amortisation expenditure of $183 million – I am unable to see what is the breakdown or what is it for?

As I understand it – could it be in part related to the land costs charged by the Government?

How much have public healthcare institutions been charged for land over the years?

If this is the case, the question that may need to be asked is – if the Government does not charge public healthcare institutions a high price for land – would our healthcare charges be lower?

Relative to the “Pioneer Generation Package” first year costs?

By the way, this combined surplus and depreciation and amortisation of $188 million is about three-quarters of the Pioneer Generation Package’s first year cost of $260 million, announced in the Budget.

Since I do not have access to the NHG’s latest annual report – what is the current combined total as a percentage of the Pioneer Generation Package’s cost?

Total surpluses and depreciation for land costs of all public healthcare institutions?

Finally, if two public healthcare groups’ estimated combined surplus and depreciation and amortisation  for a year is about $188 million – what is the total for all the public healthcare institutions?

Leong Sze Hian


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.