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Healthcare Philosophy Back to Healthcare

The Singapore healthcare philosophy emphasizes on the building of a healthy population through preventive healthcare programmes and the promotion of healthy living. The population is often encouraged by public health education programmes to adopt healthy lifestyles and be responsible for each of their own health. The public is also made aware of unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol intake, bad dietary intake and sedentary lifestyles. Child immunisation programme which is targeted against infectious diseases like tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella and Hepatitis B, is offered at the government polyclinics. Health screening programmes have also been introduced for the early detection of common ailments like cancers, heart diseases, hypertension and diabetes mellitus.

The Government also ensures that basic medical services are made good and affordable through the provision of heavily subsidised medical services and public hospitals and government clinics. The basic medical package will reflect good, up-to-date medical practice, which is cost-effective and of proven value, but it will not provide the latest and the best of everything. Treatments will be delivered by trained personnels using appropriate facilities. It will exclude non-essential or cosmetic services, experimental drugs and procedures of unproven value. All private hospitals, medical clinics, clinical laboratories and nursing homes are required to maintain a good standard of medical services through licensing by the Ministry of Health.

The Singapore health care delivery system is based on individual responsibility, coupled with Government subsidies to keep basic health care affordable. Patients are expected to pay a small part of the cost of the medical service they are using while the rest will be subsidised by the govenment. If patients request for higher level of services, naturally they will have to pay more out of their own pocket. This principle of co-payment is to avoid the pitfalls of providing free medical services. For patients who choose to have the lower classes or type of wards, their hospitalization expenses are subsidised up to 80% by the government.

Individuals are all asked to be responsible for their own medical health by putting aside a sum of money as medical expenses. With the introduction of the Medisave scheme, every working individual are required by law to set aside 6% - 8% of his monthly income into his medisave account which can be used to pay for medical expenses incurred by himself or immediate family members. MediShield, a catastrophic illness insurance scheme, is designed to help individuals meet the medical expenses from major or prolonged illnesses. Medifund acts as a safety net of last resort for those who are truly indigent. Therefore no individual will be rejected any medical services from any hospitals for the reason of inability to pay. Waiting time for elective operation is between 2 to 4 weeks on average. Patients requiring emergency or urgent surgery are always admitted immediately without any waiting.