Gan revealed that the Medifund's capital sum now stands at a humongous $3 billion. The actual money paid out for health care, he explained, is the income from the interest earned on this capital sum. Since we are not told how the interest is generated, it is quite safe to assume some "investment experts" are using the capital sum for monopoly money.
Medifund received $82.4 million in the last financial year, in all likelihood earned largely from taxes contributed by you and me. We are told $90.8 million was given out to patients in health care institutions, due to the 519,380 applications approved by the health authorities. We are not told how many applicants were rejected, and told to get out of their elite, uncaring faces. The really big question is why $3 billion less $90.8 million is kept aside from people who need it most. That's not all. For past two decades, Medifund has always has kept aside more money than the amount it has disbursed to health bodies - collect more, give less. Before a general election, all surplus creamed off is added to the accumulating capital sum, locked away and well beyond touch of the needy folk.
Medifund was supposed to be a financial safety net to help Singaporeans in genuine need. In theory, those who still face difficulties with hospital expenses, even after Government subsidies, Medisave and MediShield, can approach a medical social worker to help them apply for Medifund. In practice, the procedure can be quite daunting. Take Medisave for an example.
An elderly relative recently asked for assistance to apply for use of his Medisave for his monthly check up and medication at an IMH clinic. Thanks to the language barrier, the dialect speaking senior had postponed the hassle of the request for several years. The retiree had been paying for the medicals out of cash, which was swiftly depleted thanks to rising cost of living and the regressive GST. Surprised it wasn't done earlier, the doctor we presented the case to gave her approval without hesitation, as it was well within guidelines.
The next surprise was at the payment counter, when he was asked which "package" to opt for. For instance, to use Medisave for payments totalling up to $400 a year, he has to first pay out-of-pocket $101 (so-called "Package Value" $501). No ready cash, no access to Medisave. We dipped into our wallets and helped him out. After all, he was there because his cash reserve was low in the first place.
Meanwhile somebody is sitting pretty on $3 billion of cash reserves. Gan said, "We will continue to do more to provide the elderly with added peace of mind when it comes to health-care services". We weren't feeling too peaceful when leaving the clinic, our brains racked with all the permutations that the needy and elderly have been, and continue to be, short changed.