Public healthcare is a often viewed as a benefit to the society. However, running the operation is not a cheap business since most technologies and drugs are bought overseas. The expertise & the assets gotta to be paid somehow and it just snowballs into a big fat sum. Not forgetting, the icing on top of the bill is our local sales tax (Is payment for healthcare a sales transaction)?
I lived in a few western & asian countries before and do find the cost of healthcare here in singapore reasonable in relative terms.
The only part which is not well taken care of is payouts from the insurance for medical claims.
Just to illustrate an example. I was chatting with a physio therapist afew days back - a young sweet lady in her twenties which i hope to do her tfcd LOL - who said she got paid too little for a professional job. In Australia, a physio is a well paid professional job and the better qualified ones can even issue mc and drugs like steriods. But she claimed she was paid low since the market sets the standard for pricing (and hence her pay). The only part she blamed was that insurance companies in singapore are not (allowed) able to take care of the medical bills as well as the western countries. True enough, when i was overseas, i paid a premium for healthcare, but when i needed to claim, it wasn't too difficult to have them mostly paid off (except for special circumstances like pre-existing conditions). When i was a student, it was totally free since the premiums are factored into the tuition fees.
The point here is, you can enjoy cheaper healthcare, but at the expense of higher insurance primiums and mark ups from other avenues (eg cpf, taxes, erp, fines) to cover for the welfare. It can be a net net effect afterall.
As for healthcare standards, it is very acceptable here. Yes, the admin people may not do a good job filtering the patients in the A&E dept, but remember they are not doctors and are not certified to judge the degree of danger or complexity of the illness(es) of each A&E patient that walks though the auto door.
Most often, i stayed on the line and waited patiently like the rest would in the queue. Sometimes, I get to jump queue when i needed to at the A&E. To illustrate, on two occassions, i brought a staff who suffered serious injuries. We applied first aid and sent him off to A&E. Took a cab and reached hospital in a jiffy. Joined the queue and paid the $80. When I was told to wait 3hrs hours at least, I lifted the poor chap's hand, showed the admin the blood soiled bandage and quietly told her he was loosing way too much blood earlier. She got the msg and hence quietly gave my staff a priority status to quickly see the doc and proceed to the small operating theatre. The admin people are not that heartless afterall.
Indeed there are many horror stories in this trade and some mistakes relate to human errors. Eg. my close relative who once stayed in one of the top 2 private hospitals here did not have her oxygen supply turned on for 24hrs. There were 9 specialists and 6 nurses who attended her and none knew the oxygen wasn't switched on. The critically ill patient was having a hard time breathing with the face mask on. Also, the medications which one particular Indian nurse signed out were not administered to the patient for the whole day. The drugs were either stolen or thrown away out of convenience. I happened to know the GM of the hospital group and kicked a big fuss with a top down approach. I was involved in several meetings at director level after that. At the end of the patient's stay (after some months), my family paid - in full - every penny for all the bills which amounted to several hundred k. We were no beggars, but we just wanted a fair and honest amount of treatment that each patient should get from the nurses and staff.
Does that imply that private hospitals are crappy? No, just human errors.
My thoughts now are: I hope i can live happily and when its time for critical illnesses, just call me home. The torment to go thru those man-made-drugs and treatments might not be so rosy afterall.