TRE -- Kampong Boy's excellent idea to introduce a medical tax on foreign patients, similar to additional stamp duties on properties purchased by foreigners, to regulate medical tourism, now unbridled and uncontrolled
I refer to the following article optimistic about medical tourism:
“Singapore’s medical tourism sector predicted to grow 8.3% annually through 2018″
It is insane for the government to promote medical tourism as it causes average medical costs to spike in Singapore.
By a simple demand and supply analysis: the supply of doctors produced each year is controlled so as to maintain a certain ratio of doctors to populace. The demand for medical services each year should be fairly predictable based on a particular population size.
In another words, in a closed environment, there are fewer variables in the health care system. It should be possible to design a system that is affordable for most people.
In addition, when the health care cost shows a stable pattern, it should also help insurance companies to design products to provide adequate coverage at reasonable premiums.
Medical tourism upsets the medical ecosystem. Given a large influx of foreign patients into both private and public hospital, the demand for medical services spikes. As the supply of medical professionals cannot be ramped up quickly, medical cost go up naturally. Locals suffer as a result.
When left unchecked, it expected for a negative spiral to occur. Private hospitals can charge unlimited fees and there are more than enough foreign patients to foot the bill.
Eventually there is a constant drain of overworked doctors from public to private practice. As private hospitals become too costly, local patients will overdrive the local hospitals.
With an aging populating, the demand for medical services by local elderly will increase. However, the persistent growth or medical tourism will continue to push up health care costs, and cause a steady decline in public health care system.
The government must intervene to slow or reverse this negative spiral.
As a start, the government can introduce a medical tax on foreign patients, similar to additional stamp duties on properties purchased by foreigners.
The tax collected can be diverted to train more medical professionals, build more public hospitals, and provide subsidized health insurance for the poor.
The welfare of the people must be the priority. Medical services cannot become a pure market commodity.
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