S’pore’s healthcare protection gap highest in Asia?


Why is it that Singapore’s health protection gap is the highest in Asia, on a per capita basis?

I refer to the article “Asia’s health protection gap widens to US$1.8 trillion: Swiss Re” (Business Times, Oct 6).

It states that “THE health protection gap in Asia is estimated to have reached US$1.8 trillion, representing 40 million households that forgo medical treatment to avoid financial stress, a study by Swiss Re has found.”

I understand that the gap for Singapore is the highest on a per capita basis, among all the countries in Asia.

So, how affordable is healthcare in Singapore?

In this connection, according to the article “Reserves cannot be further tapped for healthcare: PM” (Straits Times, Mar 5) – “Singapore cannot draw more from its reserves to fund healthcare spending in the future, as this will quickly deplete its nest egg, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The needs of an ageing society are beyond those of “a rainy day”, he said. “It is an ‘everyday need money’ day. We will need to spend more on healthcare every year, year after year, for many years to come.”

In this connection, Singapore’s public healthcare  spending as a percentage of GDP, at just about 2.5 per cent ($9.8 divided by $400 billion), is probably the lowest in the world.

Singapore workers contribute up to 10.5 percent of their wages to mandated savings accounts (Medisave account) that may be spent on health care and insurance.

This is I believe is in a sense from a cashflow perspective – probably the highest national health insurance contribution (pre-pay basis) in the world.

From a cashflow perspective – the Government  may still not be spending any money on healthcare, as total annual Medisave contributions plus the annual interest on total Medisave accounts’ balances may exceed total annual government spending on healthcare and withdrawals for medical expenses and insurance premiums.

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.