No Free Covid-19 Treatment For Patients Who Are ‘Unvaccinated By Choice’ In Singapore

by Bhaswati Guha Majumder - Nov 12, 2021 02:44 PM +05:30 IST
No Free Covid-19 Treatment For Patients Who Are ‘Unvaccinated By Choice’ In Singapore(Singapore/Unsplash)
Snapshot
  • Singapore's Health Minister said that it will no longer cover the medical bills of individuals who are "unvaccinated by choice."

    This was being done to urge those who are eligible and unvaccinated to get themselves vaccinated.

    As per the health ministry, the bills for the unvaccinated will still be highly subsidised under this system.

Singapore has so far offered over 10,000,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna jabs) to the population. But some people in the country are still unwilling to take the vaccines despite being eligible for the inoculation program.

Earlier this week, the city-state government said that it will no longer cover the medical bills of individuals who are "unvaccinated by choice," who account for the majority of severe coronavirus cases and covid-19 hospitalisations in Singapore.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement: “Currently, unvaccinated persons make up a sizable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our health care resources.”

The ministry also noted that coronavirus infected patients who are “unvaccinated by choice may still tap on regular health care financing arrangements to pay for their bills where applicable”.

This move by the government comes at a time when the city-state is facing a surge in cases. Despite the fact that around 83 per cent of the population were given at least one dose of the vaccine, the Reuters vaccine tracker database (updated on 9 November) states that the vaccination was “going at a rate of about 23,220 doses per day during the last week, which is about 70 per cent slower than its fastest 7-day pace”.

Singapore Healthcare

The Singapore government now pay for any citizen, permanent resident and long-term work pass holders who become ill with the Covid -19, unless they tested positive for the disease immediately after returning from overseas.

MOH said in the statement: “This was to avoid financial considerations adding to public uncertainty and concern when covid-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease.”

The ministry also added that the authorities will continue to cover related medical expenditures for individuals who are vaccinated, as well as for those who are still not eligible—such as children under the age of 12 and persons with certain medical conditions—until the Covid-19 situation is more stable.

Additionally, people in Singapore who are only partially vaccinated will be covered until 31 December.

Singapore is regarded as having one of the top healthcare systems in the world. The southeast Asian country placed top among 188 nations in efforts to reach the United Nations' health-related Sustainable Development Goals established for 2030, according to a study published in The Lancet.

The Singaporean approach, on the other hand, is mainly reliant on privatised medical services, which means that the unvaccinated may already be covered if they become ill with covid-19.

Furthermore, workers in Singapore are obliged to save a percentage of their pay into health savings accounts, which employees are also compelled to contribute to based on a variety of criteria.

However, bills for the unvaccinated will still be very supported and highly subsidised under this system, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told a news conference on 8 November.

“Hospitals really much prefer not to have to bill these patients at all. But we have to send this important signal to urge everyone to get vaccinated if you are eligible,” he added.

According to the Health Ministry, 91,000 new coronavirus infections were registered in Singapore over the last 28 days, with 98.7 per cent of cases being asymptomatic or moderate. Based on the government’s record, as of 7 November, 1,725 people had been admitted to hospitals due to the illness.

It was noticed that 301 of them required oxygen, 62 are being closely monitored in the intensive care unit and 67 are seriously ill and intubated. Singapore's current ICU utilisation rate is 68.5 per cent.

According to MOH: “While this is still manageable by stretching our health care manpower, we must not let down our guard and must avoid a resurgence of cases that could once again threaten to overwhelm our health care system.”

Even though Singapore has among the highest vaccine coverage rates in the world, the city-state is dealing with an increase in infections, and last month it was warned that the healthcare system was at risk of being "overwhelmed" by the outbreak. It happened just a day after the country authorised quarantine-free travel as part of a rethinking of its pandemic strategy.

Singapore's Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, previously stated that the global economic hub could not be blocked indefinitely and that the country had transitioned from a zero-tolerance policy of lockdowns and closed borders to living with Covid-19.

In late October, the island nation paused further reopening due to an increase in infections following the removal of several restrictions. To contain the spread of Covid-19 and relieve pressure on the hospital system, social restrictions were prolonged for about a month.

According to the latest reports, as of midday on 11 November, Singapore had reported 2,396 new Covid-19 cases, with 8 additional persons dying from the virus caused complications.

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