Recog­nise de­sire for best and lat­est in tack­ling rise in health­care costs

The Straits Times - - FORUM - Ge­orge Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

With or­di­nary prod­ucts such as cars, the very rich ride in Rolls-Royces, and the less wealthy go for small, af­ford­able cars. This is the norm.

But when it comes to health­care, it is a dif­fer­ent story.

A strong emo­tional el­e­ment comes into the pic­ture.

Ev­ery­one wants the best and the lat­est, ir­re­spec­tive of the af­ford­abil­ity.

This is surely one of the fac­tors linked to the ex­po­nen­tial rise in health­care costs as phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies re­spond to con­sumers’ de­mand.

In ad­dress­ing the is­sue of sup­ply and de­mand for med­i­cal ser­vices, we need to take into ac­count the re­al­ity that ev­ery­one de­sires, and is will­ing to pay for, what he sees as the best health­care.

This is also re­lated to the train­ing of doc­tors, where there seems to be an overem­pha­sis on spe­cial­ists – per­haps be­cause there ap­pears to be a strong de­mand for them (Tai­lor med­i­cal train­ing sys­tem to lo­cal needs, by Dr Leong Choon Kit; Oct 9).

Tweak­ing the sys­tem such that more gen­er­al­ists are pro­duced will not re­solve the is­sue of the de­mand for spe­cial­ists.

There is a need for the best minds, from think-tanks for in­stance, to tackle the com­plex is­sue at its root.

A so­lu­tion is re­quired where peo­ple are pro­vided with the con­fi­dence that the health­care treat­ment they are get­ting is the most ap­pro­pri­ate and, there­fore, the best, even though it is not nec­es­sar­ily the lat­est or the most ex­pen­sive.

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