Better for diabetics to take steps to help themselves

While I agree that the $400 limit on Medisave use for outpatient treatments related to diabetes is no longer sufficient as the costs of medication and consultation, even at the subsidised polyclinics, have risen considerably, I would hesitate to suggest raising the limit amount (Raise Medisave withdrawal limit for diabetes patients, by Mr Gerard Wong Choon Hoe; July 8).

Excessive withdrawals would only deplete our Medisave accounts prematurely.

The better solution is for diabetic patients to take care of themselves.

I have seen diabetics gobbling up sugary food such as kaya toast, ice cream, cake and other sweet desserts, and then taking a blood-sugar reading in order to determine the amount of medication they need after the feast.

Instead of paying $2.50 for a kaya toast set, one can have buttered toast or peanut butter toast instead of kaya, with wholemeal bread instead of white bread, and a cup of black coffee at home.

With a proper diet, there is no need for a postprandial blood test or even medication. Of course, bitter coffee, rough bread and sugarless toast are not "shiok", but the savings and health benefits are more than "shiok".

For further savings, one can make a trip just twice a year to Johor Baru, where two boxes of 25 blood-sugar test strips costs RM84 (S$27), instead of $69 for a 50-strip canister at local pharmacies.

I have been doing this for the last five years and have checked the accuracy of the products every six months against the test results from my clinic.

My Australian friend pays just A$3 (S$3.15) for a canister of the same brand of test strips as the medical subsidies in Australia are much higher.

In Singapore, the test strips are regarded as "non-standard" and not subsidised.

Francis Zhan Jun Shun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Better for diabetics to take steps to help themselves'. Print Edition | Subscribe