Mean Testing the cure all for medical cost woes
This is the gist of an article by Hobbit posted in the Singapore Medical Association News in April 2006 and reproduced in the ST today. He attributed the problems of the runaway cost and buffet mentality of patients to several causes, poor administrative system to feed patients to hospitals for polyclinics and unwarranted high cost of facilities in heavily subsidised wards. Then there are those who could afford to pay more choose not to. And all these problems can be solved by simply introducing Mean Testing. I am quite shock actually to think that the cream of the professional world could come out with such a simplistic solution to address a host of problems that is due to poor management of systems and resources. What is needed is to put a team to address the system failures and inefficiencies and cut on unnecessary cost in B2 and C wards. People opting for subsidised wards do not need frills and thrills. Just give them decent medical treatment and basic facilities. Please do not add on to their burden by all the extras of a 5 star hotel. Is this so difficult to comprehend? What is important is to look at all the costs, what are and have been included into the costs of providing essential medical services that are unnecessary? Keep the cost down and provide what the people need and not what the provider wants the people to pay for. Why not convert a few blocks of HDB style flats into no frill public hospitals, away from the 5 star hospitals with 5 star price tags? The other issue pointed out by Hobbit is the shortage of doctors in public hospitals and surprisingly the admission that many specialists are running out of patients in private practice. What is the problem then? So difficult to figure what? Do not strangle the supply of doctors. Produce more doctors from the system just like we flood the roads with taxi drivers or with graduates to be taxi drivers. As for an over supply, let the market forces bring them to their senses and an equilibrium. This supply issue applies to other professions especially the legal profession. Produce more lawyers and bring down the cost of legal fees. Why am I wasting my precious time suggesting all these measures when all the supertalents can only think of raising fees and mean testing, and laughing all the way to the banks?