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Saving for the Future - Singapore (06 Feb 2008)

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After its independence in 1965, Singapore retained a tax-financed health care system, which was inherited from the British colonial era. In the 1970's, health care expenditure had been escalating, and thus the Singaporean government began to launch health care reform. In 1984, Singapore forewent the old system and established the medical savings account system. It becomes the only country in the world which completely implements the medical savings account system. The Singaporean government promotes individual responsibility towards healthy living and medical expenses. This philosophy is reflected by the Medisave account, a medical savings account under the Central Provident Fund (CPF). Both employers and employees are required to make monthly contribution to the CPF. Part of the contribution is credited to a sub-account, the Medisave account. Savings in the Medisave account are confined for paying hospitalization fees and health insurance premiums for oneself or his immediate family members. Singaporeans can withdraw funds from their Medisave accounts when they retire. However, they are required to retain a minimum amount of savings for covering their health care expenditure after retirement. The “ 3M ” framework of Medisave, MediShield and Medifund ensures Singaporeans to have equal access to health care services. Under this system, the Singaporean government subsidizes 20% of the health care funding. The remaining amount is shouldered by private funding, such as health benefits provided by employers. In 2000, the Singaporean government set up two public corporations - the National Healthcare Group and the Singapore Health Services, which are responsible for allocating the funding from Ministry of Health to public hospitals. These two corporations also run 18 polyclinics which provide public health care services. As the polyclinics are non-profit making, the government subsidizes 50% of consultation and drug fees.Hong Kong is moving towards a new era of health care reform. Both Singapore and Hong Kong are Asian cities sharing similar social features. Whether or not the Singaporean medical savings account system, which stresses individual responsibility, is feasible in Hong Kong, further discussion is needed.

Program: 
Health Care Across Borders
Publish Date: 
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Station: 
RTHK
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