Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Too cool to care for the Old

I know of someone who is suffering from heart failure since he was 42 years old. After 20 years on medication, doctors now diagnosed him with high blood pressure and kidney failure. Consequently, these medications have caused his vital organs to disintegrate, just like wear and tear. Like a COE care, most times the car just refuses to work anymore and requires regular visit to the mechanic, or to end it all at the scrap yard.

But what I worry most is the maintenance part after he retires? Can his savings and his insurance (void after two heart operations) able to sustain the medical cost and expenses? I believe, many Singaporeans share similar take on the rising hospitalization costs that affect not just Singaporeans but on a global scale. Health care issue is not a cheap topic to discuss, and it is painful for the pocket. It could mean a lifetime of savings for some and for others who are born with a silver spoon, it only a constitute fraction of their wealth.

What about the middle-incomers who are always smacked and sandwiched in between? Just like the old man who is suffering package of illnesses.

The topic on elderly care is just as delicate as old age, and the government realized that it is a crux of the issue now. By 2020, some 600,000 Singaporeans will be above 65, which is about 15 per cent of the population. From that point onwards, the society's pace of ageing will start to accelerate. Last year, the fertility rate stood at 1.08 for Chinese, 1.09 for Indians and 1.64 for Malays. The replacement rate is 2.1. In other words the population of Chinese Singaporeans in the next generation, 18 to 20 years, will be reduced by half. LKY blames the education system as women now are more educated and career-driven; hence the decline in fertility rate is inevitable. Why am I not surprise?

So let us take a look now at some of the solutions or suggestions mooted by the incumbent government and their faithful followers:

  • 'Singapore needs to accept immigrants' – LKY
  • Health Minister Gan Kim Yong will be looking into new elder-care options and to raise the quality and salaries of caregivers.
  • NTUC Eldercare general manager Lim Sia Hoe proposed a co-funded model between the Government and service providers that is specifically used for serving elderly in the community.
  • MOH Ageing Planning Office group director Teoh Zsin Woon said there are three groups of potential labour that could be tapped on: Retired nurses, housewives between 30 and 60 years old, as well as retirees. In all, these groups comprise as many as 31,000 people.
Forget about exotic resorts and the exquisite tour around the world in 80 days. Seems like we left with no choice but to accede to the obvious choice. Sounds like an ultimatum: Singaporeans will slog till the day we die, or welcome the foreign talents with open arms. Or both as it seems now.

With the announced increase in premiums for Medishield, it seems that the government is insisting that it is on the right path. The current healthcare system is so complex that they even set up an agency called the Agency for Integrated Care, to help them maneuver the maze they have created. Medisave, Medishield, Means testing, Community Health Assist Scheme and the list goes on. And with these government plans, it seems that it is still necessary to buy our own insurance? If yes, how much is adequate?

If this is complicated for those who consider themselves educated then what about those who are in the lower rungs of societies? I think I would even have difficulty explaining to my own mother what is going on. For my mum’s sake, reform and simplify the healthcare system so that ordinary citizens can really benefit from it.  

1 comment:

The Void Deck said...

It is becoming more complex, and yet simpler at the same time. Most Sporeans just don't understand that despite the complex 3Ms plus means testing so called health safety net, they are still not covered enough. The simple truth is that most of us should get suitable medical insurance. From CI to hospitalisation coverage.

The very sad fact that many complained of dodgy practices that former health minister Khaw only paid $8 for his heart surgery just shows how appalling Sporeans' understanding of health insurance is.