Covid has brought out the worst in health care systems.
Those critical of government-imposed Covid measures noticed and called out from the beginning the existence of incredibly perverse incentives for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, which not only made any truly meaningful statistical evaluation of this whole crisis impossible, but also caused incalculable harm.
But profit-driven, counter-productive incentives existed in healthcare systems long before Covid, and they are deeply entrenched. Health care costs in many countries keep on spiralling out of control, with governments seemingly powerless to do anything about it.
Switzerland, which can safely be described as a first-world country, is one such seemingly hopeless case. There, some hospitals have just announced they are on the brink of collapse. Their solution is to simply demand yet higher fees so they can keep operating.
Surely there has to be a better way. And indeed, recently the city-state of Singapore has announced a radical overhaul of its healthcare system.
Going forward, doctors and hospitals will be incentivised to give the right care to the patients, not the most profitable care. The focus will be on preventing sickness and providing any necessary care as efficiently as possible.
The focus on preventative healthcare – isn’t that what public health should have primarily been about all along? I know, that’s not what Mr Bigpharma likes to hear.
Associate Professor Jeremy Lim, the director of global health at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health explains what this actually means, as well as some challenges the new system may face.
Singapore’s ‘Healthier SG’ is probably not perfect either, but it looks like a plausible and sensible alternative that governments in other countries, including Australia, should at least consider.