Saturday, May 05, 2012

Tommy Koh on healthcare and income inequality...

“I think the state should intervene and require all insurance companies to insure people with prior medical conditions. There should be no one in Singapore who is not insured against a potential catastrophic disease,” he added, noting that, currently, insurance companies will not cover applicants who have pre-existing medical conditions." - Tommy Koh[Link]

Singapore has 830,000 uninsured residents (2006 figures likely more if you take the latest figures):

"Mr Speaker, Sir, about 830,000 Singaporean residents - citizens as well as permanent residents – do not enjoy the insurance coverage of MediShield or its enhancement products. They make up 24% of the resident population. My Ministry will continue to encourage them to come on board, as otherwise they may be financially vulnerable should a major illness strike." 
- Minister Khaw, 14 Nov 2006

Shortly after Obama took office, he set out to fix the healthcare system because there was an crisis. The main reason for the crisis is 16.7% of Americans are uninsured and Obama wanted to reform healthcare so that everyone in US has health insurance. Singapore has 24% of its population uninsured and many who have not upgraded from Basic Medishield are under-insured and are financially vulnerable should they get sick.   Due to Singapore's aspiration to be a medical hub for the rich and the large foreign influx our limited medical resources have come stretched and healthcare cost has been rising sharply for the past few years[Link]. The lack of insurance coverage and high cost of medical care resulted in Singaporeans owing $40M last year to public hospitals [S'poreans owe public hospitals $40m in unpaid bills] . Many sell their homes [Link]or have to borrow from the bank to pay their medical bills. One of the key advantages of living in a developed country is being freed from worries about healthcare costs as medical care is provided to everyone through a universal healthcare system. Unfortunately this is no so in Singapore and the USA. The current 3M (Medisave, Medishield, Medifund0 comes with many cracks leaving many Singaporeans jfinancially vulnerable when they are sick and places too high a burden on the sick and their families.
mo
k "Koh also opposed the view of economist Shandre Thangavelu, who was also at
Thursday’s roundtable, that the income gap is “part of globalisation and
technological change .The ambassador contended that Singapore’s practice of importing large
numbers of cheap and unskilled labour depresses wages in its service and non-tradable  sectors.." - Yahoo News[Link]

Lets get this very clear. Low wage workers are lowly paid not because of globalisation or technology. Our low wage workers are the lowest paid in the developed world as a result of the massive foreign influx  in the last 10 years. Yet on Labour Day the PAP message to workers is they have to get their productivity up first before wages rise. Our workers have been underpaid for the current productivity level due to PAP policies. When the income gap, structural unemployment and low wage problems showed up a decade ago, the PAP insisted that skills upgrading and retraining was the solution to these problems - under these programs low wage workers were retrained to do one low wage job after another. After one decade of applying the wrong remedy, they now claim that increasing productivity is the key. However, we know this is not true, in the US where productivity has been increasing there was no corresponding increase in wages due to the wage-productivity gap. The increased productivity simply went to raising profit margins and CEO salaries. Singapore workers have far less power than Americans  to bargain for better wages when productivity goes up because of the foreign influx. Also, as long as companies have access to cheap foreign labour, there is little incentive to improve productivity. I'm certain, based on the current set of policies, we are going to waste another decade and hundreds of thousands of low wage workers will continue to struggle in the coming years.

I truly appreciate more people from the establishment especially those previously closely asscociated with the PAP speaking up on these issues and urging the govt to make serious changes to their policies. These people cannot be accused of doing so because they are out to oppose the govt or other political reasons. The PAP should seriously listen. What Tommy Koh is saying is no different from what I've been saying and similar to what Chee Soon Juan and what an increasing number of Singaporeans think should be done. The rising social and political discontent will reach dangerous levels if we stay on our current path  Ultimately, what Singaporeans want is have these serious problems more effectively addressed and many remain hopeful the PAP can get it done.  However, there will be a point when time runs out and most Singaporeans conclude that the PAP has other interests that stand in the way of making life better for Singaporeans.


48 comments:

Anonymous said...

"However, there will be a point when time runs out and most Singaporeans conclude that the PAP has other interests that stand in the way of making life better for Singaporeans."
Lucky Tan

Singaporeans can conclude whatever they want about PAP lah.

But come election day, at least 60% will still vote PAP.

Simply because, despite whatever is concluded, PAP remains the best available party to vote for. So the 60% are not that wrong.

Agree, Lucky Tan?

By the way, Tommy Koh is also like you what, and did not contest last GE.

Anonymous said...

Tommy Koh can say lah.
Chee Soon Juan can say lah.
Lucky Tan can say lah.

But they did not contest elections and so are not elected MPs from the PAP like Lee Hsien Loong who also can command the majority support of elected MPs to become Prime Minister.

Tan Jee Say also can say lah.
Tan Kin Lian also can say lah.
Tan Cheng Bock also can say lah.

They also contested elections but lost. And Tan Jee Say lost not once, but 2 times within a year.

So what can you say?

Lye Khuen Way said...

Lucky, you always write something I can relate to.
Prof Tommy Koh, is one of the few elites/ intellectuals that I hold in esteem.
He has proven to be more wise, caring than the money-minded PAP Leadership.
Every day, we now hear & read of more elites/intellectuals with compassion for their fellow Singaporeans speaking up. Yes, some are not 100% pro-minimum wage/ universal healthcare / shock therapy, but it is encouraging.
Hope, we do not need to go to that Extreme end game.....

Anonymous said...

That is to say if you contest but lost, it is as good as not contested.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lucky you got fan stalker. Idiot who always harp on the magical figure of 60%.

Anonymous said...

Can people like Tommy Koh, Lucky Tan, Tan Jee Say, Tan Kin Lian, Tan Cheng Bock, Lim Chong Yah or even Chee Soon Juan get together and form a new party to contest next GE?

Possible?

That's why if I were PAP, I will not be worried lah. 60% is more or less assured. Every time.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5/5/12 09:25, I think you are confused. Lucky Tan is not a famous actor or singer, so he is no star. Only stars have fans. And I agree fan or star stalkers are idiots.

But harping on 60% is not idiot.

Because 60% figure is the most important figure to determine Singapore destiny and the lives of the "peasants."

So how can this be idiot? It is just emphasizing by repeating to Lucky Tan how important it is to deal with this 60%.

Anonymous said...

Since there are many foreign private patients in private hospitals and patients who are in class A wards of restructured hospitals,

why not Singapore tax these patients, at the rate of 20% of total medical fee incurred by these private patients, who receive VIP medical treatment and use the collected tax to subsidize the medical cost incurred by the middle and poorer class in hospital, outpatient care and long-term medical treatment?

Anonymous said...

"why not Singapore tax these patients, ..."
Anon 5/5/12 09:56

Tax them some more and they will not come.

They will go to Penang, Melaka or even Bangkok and elsewhere for their treatment.

You think Singapore private hospitals are the best available in South East Asia or the world is it?

Anonymous said...

All these people know what is wrong with Singapore but don't have the balls to speak up. For that their karma will be affected. Only now when they sense the wind is turning that they dare to put forward a toe. They are cowards.

Anonymous said...

"The rising social and political discontent will reach dangerous levels in we stay on our current path".
Lucky Tan

Dangerous in what sense? PAP voted out? Or mass protests in the streets?

I can only recall one "mass protests" of less than 20 people, including small children, led by SDP's Chee Soon Juan a few years back.

And since then, nothing of such "protests" happened again.

And don't forget PAP still got 60% vote in last GE, you know. And SDP's star team led by Tan Jee Say got onyl 39% votes in GE 2011!

And 3 months later, Tan Jee Say got even less votes (25%) in PE 2011!

So how dangerous can it be? Or will it be?

That's why I think PAP knows better.

BEE said...

Productivity has its limits.

Not every job can have rising productivity.

How clean do you want the baby's arsehole to be? How many arseholes to clean in 15 mins?

A Performance scale must first be set, and then the effort has to be measured based on the scale.

Some questions:

What jobs were used to measure productivity, that represent the entire workforce?

How were these measured?

Staying behind in the office past 7pm is measured as productive?
Comming early to work at 7am is productive?

Blogging more than 2 entries a day is productive?

Questions, questions, questions.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5/5/12 13:41

You have questions, so I answer with a good example below. You will sure understand one.

Winning 93% seats with only 60% votes, that's productivity.

Winning 40% votes but only got 7% seats, that's bad productivity. And later lost one seat some more, even worse.

Now you understand what is productivity, as defined by 60%?

Anonymous said...

The idiot-savant who keeps repeating the 60% number is correct.

It all boils down to votes.

So don't just vote Opposition in GE 2016.
Get your family & friends to also vote Opposition.

Anonymous said...

"The PAP should seriously listen".
Lucky Tan

But who vote PAP in? So who should PAP seriously listen?

aganuls said...

This is very informative and inspiring article. Thank you for good work.medical supply Malaysia

Anonymous said...

//Productivity has its limits.

Not every job can have rising productivity.//

In most of the developed countries, it is no longer productivity but inflation (price increase / overpricing for basically the same thing with a slight add on here and there) once they have climned / reached the peak of the value chain - unless they are able to keep up by producing earth shattering (almost) products or services which are still demanded by the world (e.g Germany, Switzerland).

Anonymous said...

PAP has a expert economic team should know long our Ordinary Singaporean getting more than 100% Lower than counterpart of other developed country but because they only care to push high GDP and allow 100% all foreigners to flood Singapore ( PAP: who care singaporean, calmly care my million salary and get more bonus) do not even bother ordinary people jobless and suffering!!

May be Prof Lim want PAP to take action but after one year PAP still do not care his local Singaporean, Prof Lim cannot stand any more and exploit this greed government!!!

Anonymous said...

"Singapore workers have far less power than Americans to bargain for better wages when productivity goes up because of the foreign influx."
Lucky Tan

But why is there a foreign influx? Because PAP govt allow it, right?

But who allow PAP to be the govt?
And why PAP allowed to be the govt?

So the who and why is the root cause of the problem lah, right?

Any problem can only be solved properly if you solve the root cause, and not blaming the symptoms of the problem.

Anonymous said...

You want people from the establishment to speak up for the good of Singapore citizens.It's more like squeezing blood from stone.LKY money have stopped them including past and present PAP MPs,from speaking up.Let's be honest-they do not really care as long as they keep receiving their attractive renumeration.
I am afraid it is too late and the country will just deterioate unless there is a 360 degrees change in its policies or a total regime change and have a fresh start.It is a risk worth taking as the saying goes,if it is cancerous amputate it and stop the pain.

Anonymous said...

Root cause of any problem, I tell you, very difficult to solve lah.

Definitely cannot be solved by blogging lah. Or saying lah. Or complaining lah.

Anonymous said...

Singapore is now becoming like a living hell for the mid & low level income families, thanks to PAP's liberal immigrant policies.

Public housing is becoming more & more expensive and there is really no reason for a new HDB public flat to become that expensive especially when it is not supposed to become a top revenue earner for our Govt.

Cars have become so expensive now that it is now a real headache especially for those who need to depend on a car (for example salesmen who need to travel a lot) to make an honest living.

In time when cars are even priced beyond the reach of the mid-income earners, this will be a red hot potatoe for PAP, many thanks to its 6.5million population target policy at all costs.

And when the next GE is due and if small cars still cost more than S$100K, many voters will certainly vote PAP with both their hands & feet up in arms to register their unhappiness !

May God bless PAP & LKY, if he is still alive by then.

Anonymous said...

It is sad the PAP MPs do not speak and represent the interests of ordinary citizens. They will shut up as long as they benefit from the good money they get being loyal to the PAP master. It is not in the interests of PAP to help the struggling low-wage and the middle income citizens with the high cost of living-high HDB price, high medical cost, high transport cost, etc PAP has other interests that stand in the way of making life better for Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

"The rising social and political discontent will reach dangerous levels in we stay on our current path Ultimately, what Singaporeans want is have these serious problems more effective addressed and many remain hopeful the PAP can get it done. "

No way that is going to happen. Hell no! You overlooked the fact that the ISA is still in place to keep the status quo in line and in check.

So, that will never happen in Singapore. Singaporeans would eventually vote the PAP out but that would prolly take another 50-70 years when a good alternative arises. At present, the alternatives can only work towards a first world parliament. And they can't even abolish ISA.

Singapore will carry on. You seem to forget that Singaporeans don't really care about other Singaporeans, much less those who are struggling to keep up.

Singaporeans are divided. And they know this. But you don't.

You don't seem to get it that Singaporeans are a selfish lot who only take care of their own issues and their at best their own families.

They are not here for you and me. The 60.1% doesn't care about the 39.9%.

Nor do the pinoys, PRCs and India Indians, Indonesians here.
They are all here including our government for the good times.

I don't disagree with most of your observations.

But if Tommy Koh can't get through to them, it tells a lot of the state of matters in this country.

Singaporeans need to learn the difference between authenticity and hyporcrisy. In the meantime, they don't.

The aim of the government to keeping piloting until a hemeostatis of events is reached.

Then, Singaporeans will say: "What to do? Bo pian lo"

But this much, I'd say. Singaporeans are indeed fed-up and angry at the men in white. And they are not afraid to talk about it in the kopitiam anymore. Now, they're talking about it everywhere.

As far as the government is concerned, you are not an elite. You are just noise.

Anonymous said...

"Root cause of any problem, I tell you, very difficult to solve lah.

Definitely cannot be solved by blogging lah. Or saying lah. Or complaining lah."

Blogging is to educate, just like what Lucky is doing. Some do in through whining and complaining. However, the readers should be able to appreciate the gist of the message once the conditions are pin-pointed / identified for them to pick out easily. Else some people may be doubtful whether they are the only isolated ones who are whining & complaining. The reason why mainstream media & gathering for large scale demostration / protest is controlled - this is to make you feel that you are the only odd person(s) who are feeling the way you feel and that whatever some people of even half-baked authority / credential say must be right / correct.

Anonymous said...

The pap stayed in power by cheating their ways. They manipulated the electorial system and process to favour themselves. They put all sorts of unjust and unreasonal obstacles in the way of the oppositions.
How long more can they juggle to cling onto power ? Another swing of 10% n they will be gone. They can only deceive and cheat Singaporeans for so long and not more. Singaporeans have awakend. Those blind pap supporters are dwingling in numbers. The pap is a deadend party.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with anon 11.35.
The complete control of the Straits Times and all mainstream media has led to such a situation in singapore....it was only when all the opposition came in to contest all the constituencies in the last election that singaporeans realise that they were not the only odd one out who is feeling this way.

This is another device our government uses and it is mind boggling how 60.1% are along with this merry shit.

We need to repeat this observation and it was very well-described. It points out very clearly why it is difficult for groups to come together..

Blogging is to educate, just like what Lucky is doing. Some do in through whining and complaining. However, the readers should be able to appreciate the gist of the message once the conditions are pin-pointed / identified for them to pick out easily. Else some people may be doubtful whether they are the only isolated ones who are whining & complaining. The reason why mainstream media & gathering for large scale demostration / protest is controlled - this is to make you feel that you are the only odd person(s) who are feeling the way you feel and that whatever some people of even half-baked authority / credential say must be right / correct.

The government aims that no singaporeans can effectively organise themselves and challenge them.

It's time the 39.9% wakes up the half of the 60.1% aunties who attend minister's rally who speak kee chiu for building rapport.

Anonymous said...

Lucky, your write-up "Michael Burry on the financial crisis" was superb. Please repost it with whatever changes you may have to make. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

40% is the tipping point, Beyond that many ministers are going to get kicked out and it will be irreverisble.

Thats why the are worried and so eager to import new immigrants to get that extra few percentage each GE.But at the rate they going, its inevitable more ministers are going to cry the next election. Transport could well be one of them

Its ME said...

Thank you Lucky Tan for stirring the Singaporean reader right brain. Healthy Wealth supporters support real healthcare, fight sick-care industry players.

Anonymous said...

Bo Chup is the best way to go. Know also keep quiet. Khay khiang people deserve to be stoned don't care which party all idiots. Wise man say one. Ha.

No joke.ha

Anonymous said...

JUST Tweak the components of the consumer price index:

Remove transport
Remove fuel costs

Presto! all ok.. inflation within the NORMAL band!

Clever right?

Anonymous said...

///Anonymous said...5/5/12 09:13

Tan Jee Say also can say lah.
Tan Kin Lian also can say lah.
Tan Cheng Bock also can say lah.

They also contested elections but lost. And Tan Jee Say lost not once, but 2 times within a year.

So what can you say?///

So keep on saying until one fine day, the kaki you support wins lah. If not, keep on saying lah until you grow old lah. Plenty of time and plenty of cyberspace which is free of charge other than the monthly internet subscription fees. Tiok Bor ?

Anonymous said...

Oh whatever, who cares. All can go and die lah which we all will one day anyway...lol

Snark said...

Yes, who needs the intellectuals talking? We just need the smart people to shut up so that we can make our money in peace. Depressed wages, income gap, as long as we are merry, nothing is going to happen.

Says the ostrich with his head in the sand.

PAP all the way man! said...

All alternative media write negative things about the Gov.

They allow venting and gripping

None is able to galvanise a strong and viable alternative to what we have now.

The game has barely begun and the victors remain victorious and unchallenged.

One single threat and all will run, cower and hide.. most of all:
Shut up.

Singaporeans are not stupid and are extremely risk averse.. they will not take the chance, the gamble.

Even at 50.1% .. control is control... no other word for it.

Its a wonderful show!

Ng Eng Hou said...

When you look at the way government neglects the healthcare (welfare) of the population by deliberate under-spending, I can understand why many PRs refuse to become citizens. It can become like a hell if you're old, poor and sick in Singapore. Better retired to somewhere with lower costs of living, more affordable healthcare.

This puzzles me as to why still quite a number of people wanted to become citizens here? Are they blind? If they're not blind, what are their motives? Are they trying to use the citizenship status to extract some benefits and if these benefits are exhausted, they will leave Singapore forever?

Just wonder if my guess is correct?

chin chia poor said...

Nice work, Mr Lucky

Anonymous said...

Singapore is 400 years behind the UK and the US in terms of freedom of thought.

Choosing to live in Singapore means choosing to live in a country where thought control is normal.

I much prefer to live in a society that is free and whose politicians based their decisions on rational thought.

What we have of the PAP administration is one which does not subscribe to any moral codes except political survival and their policies revolve around this notion.

The intelligent Singaporean sees this and I have sympathy for them for their silence.

IN a way, you are a scientist who seeks to question the claims and assertions made by our PAP government.

Anonymous said...

Insurance is not a source of free fund for medical care. The healthier end up paying more in premium than they receive in payouts. Vice-versa for the less healthy. Those with pre-conditions should be made to pay higher premiums, just like smokers. Then it is up to them whether they want to insure themselves. The Government should provide only basic subsidy for all. We are not Brunei.

Anonymous said...

We must understand that our economy is operated on the basis of consumption. Not Production.

This shift was done way back in early 1990s.At that time we produced hard disks, printed circuit boards.

Since then, we have shifted to selling products that were manufactured elsewhere:
Luxury items and financial products.

Even our medical services is being sold. The products are not created here. We import the ideas from elsewhere and repackage them for sale to others.

All this means we need to finance medical care through selling medical care.

On another note, people migrate and aspire to become PR here is because they are from poorer areas of their home countries.

What they see and feel is much better than where they originate from. The Urban elites will not want PR status here. They go to US, Canada..

The new Singaporean will no longer speak Hokkien or Cantonese or Hakka.. neither will they know anything peranakan.

They will become generic species from their country of origin.

Adam Thomas said...

Thanks for contributing to the conversation. I do appreciate your frankness and your passion.
Medical Credentialing Services

Anonymous said...

//Anonymous said...
Oh whatever, who cares. All can go and die lah which we all will one day anyway...lol//

Of course, all will die. But do you prefer to be kicked all your life till you die or your prefer to kick others or stay in between till you die.

Anonymous said...

"""Singapore is 400 years behind the UK and the US in terms of freedom of thought."

Choosing to live in Singapore means choosing to live in a country where thought control is normal."""

It's politics and the people. It has nothing to do with the age of the nation. China has a much longer history but in terms of freedom and human rights, it is way behind UK and USA.

Likewise, just that your parents are older (longer history) than you, that does not mean they will subscribe to the concept of freedom of speech more than you or vice versa. One thing (age) does not neccesarily lead to another (acceptance to freedom of speech)

Anonymous said...

After supporting the System for decades and brought Sin to where it is now, we now have people discovering their consciences, lolx....

To my intellectual fellow Singaporeans, may I ask why so late? It is not only too late to repent, the miseries that You have helped to cause are insurmountable.

Coming out to act good now is not going to yield any result or lower the Sins committed.

Anonymous said...

The Day I see Ngiam Tong Dow, Tommy Koh, Lim Chong Yah and Lucky Tan at Hong Lim Park Speaker Corner is the Day that they can prove their sincerity to fight for Singaporeans well-being. Otherwise, please do not make so much noise.

Anonymous said...

Agree wth the above comment, these people are up to this moment NATO Members; no action, talk only.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should read this

http://christopherbalding.com/2012/04/16/the-make-believe-world-of-temasek-holdings-and-singapore-inc/

If what he says is accurate. Marcis & Suharto were small fries