The US is clearly having trouble making ends meet when it comes to healthcare. It is spending trillions of dollars on a population that is just getting sicker. Healthcare is getting micromanaged without an effect on the big picture. We are still far away from having universal coverage.
In Singapore, an island city-state, universal coverage is the norm. They combine this with quality healthcare at very competitive prices. They have a simple system that makes sure everyone gets care. In fact, complexity is one of the big differences between the US and Singaporean healthcare systems. There are too many parts of the US system that add to the cost but don’t really contribute to the care of patients.
In addition, the US system depends on oversight and regulation whereas the Singaporean system uses choice and competition to serve the needs of the people. One example is hospital accommodations. You can stay in a private room with a private nurse and hotel-like amenities for about $1400 per night. At the more frugal end of the scale are six person hospital rooms that cost lower than $100 a night. The experts submit that the care the patient gets is the same regardless of where the patient chooses to stay. Lower cost options keep the overall cost of healthcare for a hospital visit to a minimum.
The Singaporean system involves the belief in individual responsibility in one’s healthcare. Everyone except the very poor must pay something for their healthcare. If it’s you paying for your own healthcare, you ask yourself whether or not you really need the care.
Healthcare is also more affordable in Singapore. A knee replacement surgery costs around $13,000 US dollars and a coronary artery bypass graft costs around $25,000, which is about a third or less than the same care in the US and it’s often hard to get the actual price out of the hospital and doctors. The US system has so much bureaucracy that it makes it difficult to sort out a hospital bill or determine the actual cost of things in healthcare.
Some say you can’t compare the healthcare of a city-state with three million citizens to a large country of over 300 million people. Nevertheless, there are components of their healthcare system that could be used in the bureaucracy of the US system. The Singaporean government spends only 4 percent of its GDP on healthcare, whereas the US spends up to 17 percent of its GDP on healthcare. And this is in the face of a lesser life expectancy and higher infant mortality rate than in Singapore.
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