I have queried former Health Minister Gan * on the polyclinic ‘subsidy’ which he was too ‘pai seh’ to reply. I believe Gan must have been aware that the PAP had overinflated polyclinic fees to create the illusion of a generous grant.
When real subsidies have been given, citizens pay only a fraction of the actual cost of the public good/service. For example, a foreigner pays $800 to study in our secondary schools while Singaporeans pay a fee of only $5 (see table below). The grant is a whopping 99%. No need to say if this grant is a real or bluff one.
But when it comes to public healthcare, PAP first overinflates the polyclinic consultation fee to above the amount charged by a private GP in order to give patients a 72% ‘subsidy’.
Last year’s polyclinic consultation fee was $38.97. After government ‘subsidy’ of $27.97, a patient paid only $11.00. PAP gave a ‘subsidy’ of 72%.
Overinflated consultation fee by PAP
|Inflated bill||Polyclinic||Private GP|
Polyclinic bill before fee increase
If a private GP charges only $20 for consultation, why is a polyclinic charging almost double the amount? Since the subsidy is an expenditure item to the government, who are the beneficiaries of ‘$27.97’?
The polyclinic consultation fee has to be much lower than that of a private GP. This is common sense. Assuming this to be half the rate of a private GP, or $10, the 72% subsidy turns out to be 10% profit for the PAP.
Non-inflated polyclinic consultation fee should be $10 or less
|Non-inflated bill||Polyclinic||Private GP|
|Profit for govt||10%||NA|
Have Singaporeans have been fooled for decades?
Higher fees create the illusion that a higher quantum of subsidy – additional $2 – has been given, ie during the previous year, patients received a $27.89 ‘subsidy’ but after fees were hiked, the ‘subsidy’ increased to $29.88 ($41.68 – $11.80).
The PAP isn’t making only $29.88 because there are more than 4.8 million polyclinic patient visits every year. Who are the beneficiaries of tens of millions of tax dollars? What about even more obscene profits made by public hospitals?
Our healthcare subsidy is mostly propaganda and at times turn out to be profits for the government. Transparency is needed but our elected MPs, PAP and WP, are clearly not speaking up.
* (correction) Health Minister since 2011