Welcome to MargaretJane.org and we hope you find information and ideas here that will help your family! Even more, we hope you’ll join us in talking about healthcare for children in Singapore.

Singapore has one of the best healthcare systems in the world, especially for children. We have amazing hospitals and clinics, excellent medical workers and the educational and social support to encourage healthy lifestyles.

But our system falls apart for families of severely ill or disabled children. They must put their careers and other children aside to care alone for their children, piecing together what financial and social support they can get from family, friends, the government and charities.

Free healthcare for our children

Extending free healthcare to our children would be a fractional increase of spending and a powerful and compassionate message that our country supports families and children, especially those most vulnerable through poverty and illness.

It would lift the silent burden on thousands of families, encourage parents to have more children and prevent the financial destitution of so many through no fault of their own except love for their child.

The numbers

We spend 4% of our GDP on all our healthcare with just 36% of that coming from the public pocket. The Singapore government’s budget is only 8% on healthcare. Among the top ten richest countries in the world for 2012 (Brunei, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, UAE and USA), Singapore’s government contributed the lowest share for healthcare. Our total government budget for healthcare was second-lowest, beaten by Qatar who still contributed twice as much to healthcare for their citizens.

And yet at the same time, our birthrate has plunged to 1.2, one of the lowest in the world and well below replacement level. Lee Kuan Yew said “Our educated men and women must decide whether to replace themselves in the next generation. At the moment, 31 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men are opting out. Not leaving a next generation.”

More children but not more support

So we are urged to have more children in a country that demands long working hours, an exam-intensive academic system and where a healthcare crisis can send a family into financial ruin.

Medifund is often held out as the ultimate safety net – but to qualify for Medifund, you must “have exhausted all other means to pay their medical bills.” The reality is that you must wipe out your savings and exhaust your family’s mandatory healthcare savings before you can get help for your medical bills for your sick child.

Sick and disabled children are not the “individual responsibility” of their parents. They are the shared responsibility of a society that cares about its most fragile and youngest members.

The big questions

  • How much would it cost to make healthcare free for all Singaporean children?
  • How can we make our healthcare system better for children and families?
  • What else can we do to help families of chronically ill or disabled children?

Please note that MargaretJane.org is a non-political and non-profit site to contribute to our national conversation on issues of healthcare for children in Singapore.