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Managing medical costs in retirement

07-08-2011 09:44 AM CET | Health & Medicine

Press release from: Arc Media Global

SINGAPORE (7 July 2011) – A study commissioned by the Council for Third Age (C3A) revealed that close to half or 44 per cent of Singaporeans and permanent residents polled did not regard retirement here as affordable, with many citing high medical costs as a major deterrent. It appears that the general perception locally and abroad is that it is expensive to retire in the city state. The cost of retirement has become a hot-button issue with Singapore’s aging population. By 2030, one in five or 20 per cent of Singaporeans will be 65 or older.

Retirees have reason to cheer with the liberalisation of use of Medisave on 1 March 2010 which helps save out-of-pocket medical expenses. Since last year, Singaporeans and permanent residents are allowed to use Medisave to cover costs incurred from elective hospitalisation and surgeries overseas which are generally lower compared with medical procedures conducted in Singapore. Locally, cataract surgery costs $3,100-4,500. Performed in Malaysia, it only costs patients $1,500-1,800.

For individuals not cash-strapped, it could mean getting medical treatment and a holiday for the same amount or less. These upsides are drawing droves of patients and medical tourists to Malaysian medical facilities with Singapore-based Health Management International (HMI), which runs Regency Specialist Hospital in Johor Baru and Malacca’s Mahkota Medical Centre, seeing 60 per cent increase in the number of Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents (PRs) visiting its hospitals from 2010-11 as compared to 2009-10.

Lee So Chow, chief executive of Johor-based Regency Specialist Hospital (RSH) said that, “There is increasing medical tourism and we want to be poised to offer medical tourists value for money’. “Our charges are reasonable as our cost is lower (compared to hospitals in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur),” mentioned Timothy Chang, chief executive officer of Mahkota Medical Centre. As a matter of fact, charges for both local and foreign patients at Mahkota are the same.

To those suggesting that cheaper costs are tied to inferior healthcare would care to know that Mahkota doctors are mostly trained in Australia and the UK. It was also announced last week that Mahkota Medical Group will spend RM250 million to RM300 million to expand Mahkota Medical Centre in Malacca, adding 220 beds (expected to be ready by end 2014) to the existing 280-bed facility.

The 1 March 2010 regulatory changes allow patients to tap into Medisave to pay for private medical care at 12 Malaysian hospitals and medical centres linked to referral centres in Singapore. These medical facilities are owned by Singapore health-care groups Health Management International Ltd (HMI) and Parkway Holdings.

Rising living and healthcare costs lead more Singaporeans and PRs including retirees and senior citizens to actively seek quality, cost-effective healthcare options; so much so that Healthway Medical Corp, Singapore’s largest network of private medical centres and clinics of primary healthcare, dental and specialist services has also joined the foray into the medical tourism market. In latest developments, Healthway Medical Development purchased a land site in Kuala Lumpur and incorporated Healthway Medical Centre (KLCC). This can only provide more cheer to Singapore patients and their families.

To ensure quality healthcare amidst rising medicals costs, we need to ask:

• What are the types and profiles of medical tourists from Singapore?

• And what are their primary medical concerns and service requirements?

• When a patient opts for a Malaysian hospital, what does the application process involve?

• How much Medisave can be used to cover elective hospitalisation and surgeries overseas?

Leaders in Healthcare Talk Show on 3 September, 2011 (Saturday) is a high-impact gathering of Singapore patients and their families with the right healthcare providers combining interactive and personalised sharing of quality, cost-effective healthcare options, professional benchmarking among the Asian healthcare industry leaders and rational consideration of the merits of medical tourism among Asian countries.

# # #

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with the speakers at
Leaders in Healthcare Talk Show 2011, please call Eunice Wee at (+65) 6844 2080 or email Eunice at

Keywords: C3A, Healthway Medical Corp, HMI, Lee So Chow, Mahkota Medical Centre, Medisave, Parkway Holdings, PRs, Regency Specialist Hospital, Timothy Chang

Arc Media Global is the world’s first B2B/G2B integrated marketing specialist, with a mission to enable business development, innovation and sustainability in emerging markets’ strategic sectors.

AMG provides marketing consulting, business conferences, product launches, custom events, advertising and promotion services, business research, and business technology solutions.

We begin by identifying inefficiencies in key market sectors, building missing connections among the web of stakeholders and in the end, produce impact for developing industries by integrating our services in business research, advertising & promotion, events and technology.

Our team members create, interpret, and share knowledge, preparing them to lead productive, responsible, and creative lives, and spread the application of relevant knowledge to create positive change in the world of business.

PO Box 176, Robinson Road, Singapore, 900326

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