Healthcare reforms needed to curb escalating costs

I have been pondering over two issues since I attended the recent Sustainable Healthcare conference.

The first issue was given fleeting mention by the organising chairman - that Singapore is the only country that allows healthcare providers to be listed on the stock exchange.

The question is whether these firms are putting their shareholders or patients first.

Could this have contributed to the 15 per cent medical inflation in Singapore in recent years, when the normal inflation is merely 3 per cent? Lest we forget, more of such firms are mulling over public listings here soon.

The second issue was not mentioned, but is still on my mind nonetheless. It is whether doctors should be prescribing and dispensing medicine at the same time.

South Korea boldly separated prescribing and dispensing in 2000, so perhaps it is time to reflect on its lessons and revisit this issue ("Doctors should prescribe but not sell medicine" by Mr Ravi Govindan; Forum Online, May 30).

It is no use reiterating that escalating healthcare costs in Singapore are not sustainable.

Singapore healthcare is at a crossroads. These two issues of national interest deserve a transparent and inclusive reappraisal.

Li Ze Zong