Friday, January 22, 2016

Unpublished letter to The Straits Times: Be mindful that health issues are sometimes beyond our control


Regular ST Forum Writer Jeffrey Law Lee Beng wrote to The Straits  Times (ST) Forum page today, Friday 22nd January 2016 highlighting that Singaporeans ought to take care of their health in order to keep medical expenditure down. 
I submitted my views on Law's letter, but the ST refused to publish it.  Clearly there is a lack of understanding on some illnesses and this must be corrected because it wrong to judge.  In this instance, the press fails to understand that in journalism different perspectives give readers a wider choice as well as for policy makers to relook at their policies that can benefit our seniors in the long run.
Here's my unpublished letter:

I agree that Singaporeans have to take care of their health so as not to overstretch healthcare expenditure (“Singaporeans can help rein in rising healthcare cost; Friday 22 Jan).   This has always been the stand of the Ministry of Health, which I support as well

However, as much as people want to stay healthy, there are instances when our health is compromised due to issues beyond our control.  Take for instance, mental illness where patients have to struggle with schizophrenia, depression or bipolar which is either genetic, lack of chemical imbalances in the brain or due to an increasing stressful environment which not everyone has the ability to cope with.

Next, ageing issues will take a toll on our elderly, be it poor vision or mobility problems. This is where Medishield Life can help to ease the burden of rapid healthcare costs to support our seniors who have contributed in the past to Singapore’s economic miracle. 

Poor vision or vision loss among the elderly is a major healthcare problem and many of our seniors will require cataract operations once they hit 60 and beyond.   The most common cause of vision loss among our elderly includes macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy.

A recent check with Tan Tock Seng Hospital revealed to my surprise that Medishield Life does not pay a single cent for cataract operations which cost $950 per eye.

To our seniors who have no steady monthly income and live all alone with no family support, $950 is a huge sum. Every month, with the cost of living skyrocketing, a senior in this group needs at least $400 a month for his/her meals and to pay the conservancy charges and PUB which are also going up.  So to these seniors even a medical bill of $400 is a burden.

Although Medishield Life has been implemented to help Singaporeans with their medical bills, there is still more to be done to provide better coverage for our seniors who have little savings, cannot afford to purchase outriders and have no income.

Raymond Anthony Fernando


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