6/01/2007

market economy, consumer choice

When the market was booming and demand for condominiums was high, many developers, including HDB, responded by building more condos. When the market was weak, HDB changed policies to build more 3 rm flats. This is not only being responsive to the needs of the people, it makes simple commonsense. Provide what the people want and can afford to pay. Read in the papers today that C class hospital wards are in demand. This simply says that people cannot afford better class wards or do not want them. And this is expected. According to the distribution of incomes, only 10% are at the top and another 20% are reasonably comfortable. The bulk of the populations are just struggling and trying to make ends meet. C class wards would be appropriate for their pockets. Hospitals should provide the different classes of wards according to the income of the people. The number of A and B1 wards must reflect proportionately the income distribution of the population. A responsive govt that thinks for the people should provide goods and services according to the needs of the people. So, are we going to see more C class wards being provided by the hospitals? Or are we going to see means testing being introduced to cut down on people opting for C class wards? Or the charges of C class wards will go up to cut down the high demands for them. Whatever, those who have to be hospitalised must quickly get themselves admitted and take advantage of the current situation.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another "leave no man behind" sing along clap#clap#clap#

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a gradual change in govt health policy, to dilute its responsibility ?

It used to be that singaporeans are free to choose to be hospitalized to any class of beds: c class for everyone at subsidized affordable cost, and higher class for those who choose to have more ' hotel ' comfort.

Many are now choosing c class, to forgo the comfort, as the increasing hospital cost make it difficult to afford the comfort.

Instead of increasing c class beds to meed demand of singaporeans or reduciwg hospital fees, there is now talk about suppressing demand by introducing means test.

This is like telling singaporeans that they cannot go to hawker centres (c class) for meals. They have to go to restaurants for their meals ! Entry to hawker centres are subject to 'means tests' !

Anonymous said...

Jayaretnam was right. You can die but you cannot fall sick.

Low Thia Khiang was also right. They gave you a drumstick, but they will take back a whole chicken. They are doing that now.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a matter of prudence rather than lack of resources or money that we got to live with the existing discomfort. Expanding the class c facilities will have a negative impact on the bottomline profits and that is something that must not be allowed to happen.

Anonymous said...

Is the demand for C class wards due to increases in the lower income population group or due to more rich people opting for it? If it is the former that should be a logical result.

Anonymous said...

When the market was booming and demand for condominiums was high, many developers, including HDB, responded by building more condos. When the market was weak, HDB changed policies to build more 3 rm flats. This is not only being responsive to the needs of the people, it makes simple commonsense. Provide what the people want and can afford to pay.

Btw HDB also got means testing on application prerequisites and income ceiling so this thing is not just unique to the hospitals. The difference I guess lies in the ratios and formulas..

Anonymous said...

There must be a reson for the means testing. SOme financially well off landed class owners I know queue at the polyclinics for consultations; one of them owns at least 20 paid up properties.

I think it doesnt seem fair that these people should join the jam packed queue at the C wards to compete with the needy and poor. Givn the present circumstances therefore, I believe means testing in the hospitals is the right thing, but it should not be anything resembling a coe styled formula that balances supply and demand becos that would seem responsible.

Our guys up there are doing their best, give them a break.

Anonymous said...

The fear is that if demand for C class wards do not go down with the implementation of means testing, they will just kepp on lowering the bar. A day may come when even the really needy are deprived. We just have to wait for the announcement of the details.

Anonymous said...

...A day may come when even the really needy are deprived...

Not with the current team I think, but you are absolutely right if they have nin-com-poops in the goverment someday you may just see that happening.

redbean said...

the idea of means testing, like i said, arises from very mean mind. you cannot micro manage people's life to that level where you are unhappy because someone wants to live like a beggar. and you want to blame people for having green eyes over your million dollar salary!

there will be misers or wiser people who would not want to spend on luxury. savings and thrift are virtues. and the govt is practising it by hoarding to the national reserves and not spending it wildly.

why is it that individuals are frowned upon when they too want to keep their savings and not spend wildly?

the govt should just leave the system in general and let the individuals lead their lives and exercise their choices. if a multi millionaire chooses to live like a pauper, why should that bother the govt? this is too much meddling in the private lives of people.

let there be give and take. and public health is a necessary expenditure and the govt must provide the alternatives for people who want to pay less for basic medical services.

Anonymous said...

if a multi millionaire chooses to live like a pauper, why should that bother the govt? this is too much meddling in the private lives of people.



Means testing is a simple procedure which ranks and determines a person's rough networth. It is non intrusive and a neutral mechanism.

A wealthy person can live anyway he chooses within the ambit of the law, but when it comes to important public resources which are scared, limited and heavily subsidised, priorities must be set to ensure that everyone has a fair use of the resources or services.

Setting these priorities and mechanisms must be the duty of the govt.

There are rules on other critical public resources too. Besides public housing, water is another example. EVen if one can afford to, he is not allowed to waste water in public, and if he does that at home he faces hefty surcharges as a penalty.

Yes a millionaire can live like a pauper, here or anywhere. There are some already doing that. That former pig tailed billionaire has shown us the frugal ways; Warren Buffet is another one. It is not anything new or unacceptable in modern societies.

Anyone can choose to sting, that's his business. I doubt the govt cares about that, why should they?

Anonymous said...

This is like telling singaporeans that they cannot go to hawker centres (c class) for meals. They have to go to restaurants for their meals ! Entry to hawker centres are subject to 'means tests'


Yes, technically any public assets that are subsidised can be regulated to ensure that it functions smoothly. Consider yourself lucky that your fears do not have to materialise soon.

You must be aware that subsidised hawker centres are unique to Singapore, in other developed countries of comparable standard, you either eat home cooked meals at home, pack your cold lunch or visit the restaurants if you can afford to.

Arent you one lucky fella?

redbean said...

there are a few issues here on subsidies. are the people who opted for c or b2 beds intending to take advantage of the subsidies or it is their prudence and thrift attributes that they should not consume or spend unnecessarily?

should the govt provide medical services that is really affordable that meets the needs of consumers without any perks? or is the computation of subsidies acceptable? can we have more transparency in how the cost is being built in?

if as a public service, the infrastructure cost of building the mrt can be written off, are the hospitals adding all the infrastructure and land cost at current market prices into the cost before subsidy?

at the moment we assume that there is a lot of subsidies and the cost cannot come down. whatever that came down a few months ago, probably all reabsorb by the new increases. is the computation of cost similar to hdb?

Matilah_Singapura said...

These ideas of means testing and subsidies simply means that it is the state which decides who should be helped and who should not; who should live or who should die.

Oh well, can't really blame the government — it was the people who keep voting them in.

What to do? Don't worry lah, be happy! There is no way to help every sorry-assed loser anyway. Aren't we all responsible for ourselves?

Anonymous said...

Show us here how responsible you can be voting for workable alternative. Or how to act so we don't just be perceived as always being "the pp get the gov they vote for".
Aren't you a damned whiner yourself Mati?