After Wednesday’s withdrawal of government support, people who have not been vaccinated or fall ill from Covid-19 will now be responsible for paying their treatment in Singapore.
Since last year, nearly all Covid-19 victims have had their medical bills covered by Singapore. This was in an effort to alleviate financial worries during the pandemic.
However, Wednesday’s government policy was lifted for unvaccinated people. It also rescinded free health care to those who chose not to have the vaccine.
The government pulled support Wednesday, meaning that people who don’t have Covid-19 vaccinations and become ill due to the virus now must pay their own fees in Singapore. Pictured: People in protective masks sit at a food centre in Singapore October 23, 2021
Speaking last month, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said: ‘We have to send this important signal, to urge everyone to get vaccinated if you are eligible.’
Singapore is one of many countries that have adopted similar measures as other nations around the globe to encourage vaccine-refusers to receive the jab.
Some European governments are increasing restrictions on vaccines, barring them entry to offices and restaurants.
Additionally, some measures have been taken by the US to increase the rate of vaccination. For example: Companies with over 100 employees must ensure their employees are either vaccinated (or submit a Covid-19 weekly negative test).
The government reports that while the US and EU have fully vaccinated rates of 67% and 60%, respectively, Singapore has a higher percentage than the US.
Restrictions on non-vaccinated persons have led to an increase in this rate, which is one of the highest worldwide. The restriction on the unvaccinated means that those not jabbed cannot eat at Singapore’s food courts and shopping malls.
Last month, Ong Ye Kung, the Health Minister (pictured November 24, 2009) stated that the new policy was an important message. He said, “We must send this important signal to everyone, to encourage them to get vaccinated, if they are eligible.”
Others in the state remain skeptical, and officials are particularly worried about 44,000 older people who have not been vaccinated.
The government reported that approximately 95 percent of all deaths in the last six months were caused by people 60 years or older. 72 percent of these deaths occurred among those not fully vaccinated.
In Singapore, Covid-19-related cases jumped in October and September before plummeting sharply. With a population of around 5.5 million, the country now sees approximately 1,000 cases per day.
The Wall Street Journal cites epidemiologists as saying that Singapore was the first country to withdraw medical care and cost of Covid-19 patients from those not specifically vaccinated.
Many experts in public health agree that this approach is justified.
Hsien Hsien Lei was the chief executive officer of American Chamber of Commerce Singapore. He told the WSJ that they tried every option. They gave information and facts. People have shared their stories. Ministers are seen going after their jabs. What else could they do?
Pictured: People enter a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination centre set up at a community centre in Singapore on October 7, 2021 (file photo). Singapore is home to one of highest vaccination rates.
However, some residents are against the policy. They argue that it is coercive, and may discourage people who have not been vaccinated from seeking out medical attention.
Paul Tambyah of the Singapore Democratic Party (a tiny opposition party), said to the paper that the basic principle of public health is free treatment for communicable diseases.
“This encourages people not to remain in the community and spread the disease, but to bring it up to a doctor.
Sabrina Chiu is a 47 year-old Singaporean who has not been vaccinated. She told Wall Street Journal that her decision not to receive the vaccination was because of an allergy to some medicines. Doctors haven’t told her not to. It felt like the government was forcing people to get vaccines, she said.
Covid-19 safety rules require people to eat at restaurants in Singapore in two-person groups. Nearly all Covid-19 patient’s treatment expenses have been paid since the beginning of last year as part of a pandemic policy to alleviate financial fears about the virus.
The newspaper did not identify the Singapore doctor who said that this measure was a bad message. He believes healthcare should be available for all.
The Health Ministry spokesperson told the WSJ that the new policy reflects a civic duty and moral obligation each person has to others, especially during emergencies like a pandemic.
These officials said those who become ill due to Covid-19 treatment will receive support from the government, although they may not be covered as much.
In Singapore, hospital bills for Covid-19 patients in intensive care wards can reach as high as $18,000 (£13,600), the spokesperson told the newspaper.
This is due to the fact that the cost of healthcare can be significantly decreased by the means-tested, government subsidy and national health insurance program. It’s more likely that the bill will fall between $1,500 and $3,000.