People ‘unvaccinated by choice’ in Singapore stop receiving free COVID-19 treatment
Eighty-five percent of people in Singapore eligible for coronavirus vaccines are fully vaccinated, and 18% have received booster shots.
But the Singaporean government said Monday that it will no longer cover the medical costs of people “unvaccinated by choice,” who make up the bulk of remaining new covid-19 cases and hospitalizations in the city-state.
“Currently, unvaccinated persons make up a sizable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our health care resources,” the Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday.
“COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated by choice may still tap on regular health care financing arrangements to pay for their bills where applicable,” the ministry added.
“This was to avoid financial considerations adding to public uncertainty and concern when COVID-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease,” the Health Ministry said in its statement.
“Until the COVID-19 situation is more stable,” it added, it will continue to cover related medical costs for those who are vaccinated, as well as for those still not eligible: children 12 and under and people with certain medical conditions. Partially vaccinated people in Singapore will be covered until Dec. 31.
Singapore is considered to have one of the world’s best health care systems. A 2017 study in the leading medical journal the Lancet found that Singapore ranked first among 188 countries in efforts to meet health-related sustainable development goals set by the United Nations for 2030.
The Singaporean model, however, depends heavily on privatized medical services, meaning that the unvaccinated may already have coverage if they become sick with COVID-19. In the United States, for example, about one-third of health care spending is private, while in Singapore it’s the opposite, according to an analysis by the New York Times .
Singapore recorded some 91,000 new coronavirus infections over the last 28 days, 98.7% of which were asymptomatic or mild cases, according to the Health Ministry.