As the average age of the population continues to rise, Singapore has revealed it will be on the lookout for more than 30,000 healthcare workers over the next three years in order to deal with the increasing demands of an ageing population.
The country - which is home to over five million people - plans to open six new polyclinics, and make 2100 more public hospital beds available to cope with the increasing demands of the population. As well as this it is looking at recruiting more workers into the healthcare industry, especially specialists in geriatrics and other more general specialties that cover the main issues experienced by people as they grow older.
At the moment an estimated 410,000 people in the country are over the age of 65, however this figure is due to rise to over 600,000 by the year 2020. It is hoped that by working to enhance the services available to this demographic before they are needed, the system will not become overrun in the future.
It’s far from the only time that the Singaporean Ministry of Health have acted with the future in mind. The healthcare system in the country is unique. Patients are free to choose the providers they use within the public and private systems, and are allowed to go into any clinic or hospital, public or privately owned, and ask for a consultation.
The biggest difference however is in the funding of the care that the patients receive. Unlike many other countries no medical service is provided in Singapore free of charge. A nationalised health insurance scheme called ‘Medisave’ is operated and, under this, employees contribute between 8 and 10% of their salary every month to their account. The savings accumulated in this account can then be used to pay for treatment for the employee and their immediate family.
Patient care is subsidised by the government, but this subsidy is means tested depending on the wealth of the individual. The figure rises from a 50% subsidy for citizens (40% for permanent residents) to 80% (or 70% for permanent residents). Non permanent residents need private insurance and cover, as they don’t receive any subsidy, and often this is provided by a resident’s employers.
This system ensures that healthcare in the country is never underfunded, but also that everyone has access to services. Whilst evidently different to almost anywhere else in the world, it is hugely effective and, according to Bloomberg, it is the world’s most efficient healthcare system.
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