I interviewed Dr. Jason Yap at Consumer Health World in Las Vegas. He is Director of Healthcare Services at the Singapore Tourism Board and part of the multi-agency Singapore Medicine Initiative, the goal of which is to promote, develop and maintain Singapore as an international medical hub.
I first met Jason a year ago and he hosted me on a tour of hospitals in Singapore last summer. We’ve spoken in the past about medical tourism, but in this interview I focused on Singapore’s health care system and the potential lessons for the US.
Singapore spends less than 4 percent of its GDP on health care yet has universal access and produces outcomes that are as good or better than the US and other wealthy countries. Singapore’s health care financing bears some resemblance to consumer directed health care plans in the US, which should lend encouragement to those who see consumerism as a way out of the health care thicket.
One of the more interesting elements of the Singaporean system is free-market pricing. Providers set their own prices –just like providers of other services. The government focuses on making sure that the market mechanism is working well, but doesn’t dictate what the prices should be.
I’m not saying that the US should adopt the Singaporean model (and neither is Jason) but I do find it an intriguing case study.May 7, 2008