SINGAPORE - Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat expects government expenditure on healthcare to "rise quite sharply" in the next three to five years and beyond.
Speaking to the media after a tour of Changi General Hospital and Saint Andrew's Community Hospital on Wednesday (Dec 6), Mr Heng said he predicts that by 2020, government spending will go up by "at least $3 billion".
In this year's Budget, the Ministry of Health (MOH) received $10 billion, up from the $4 billion health received in 2010.
"As medical technology improves, as our population ages, the demands will grow, and the need to provide for that will also grow," he said, predicting an annual budget of "at least" $13 billion from 2020.
Mr Heng said the figure "is just an initial estimate" and will depend on "how well we are able to manage in the next few years".
He added: "It's something Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and I continue to discuss, getting our projections right and getting our resources ready to meet that need."
The Finance Minister was at the hospitals to see how they have used technology to increase productivity and enhance care.
He was shown the bed transporter which cuts the number of people needed to move a bed with a patient in it, from two to one person.
Mr Heng also saw how a new device can access wounds in seconds, and do it more accurately than a nurse who usually takes 30 minute to perform the same role.
"What I'm seeing is very encouraging, how the hospital itself is taking action, first to upgrade their operations, then to upgrade the skills of their people, and doing this is a very holistic way," he said after spending more than two hours at the hospitals.