In his 1996 National Day speech, then Prime Minister Goh said, “People often want the government to assume the full burden of the cost of medical care and provide treatment free to Singaporeans. Because of the painful lessons learned in other countries we have not done this. All the countries which have done this—Britain, France, Germany, Canada, and Communist China—have failed. Their systems break down as people overuse so-called ‘free’ health care, which they actually pay for indirectly through higher taxes. Their health services deteriorate. Waste and inefficiency become endemic. Now these countries are forced to cut back on services, introduce cost controls, and reform the system.
This is the biggest lie that Singapore leaders have repeatedly spin about Universal Healthcare.
Canadians are proud of the country's healthcare system. It has been functioning well for decades with no signs of failing. The notion that Singaporeans pay one of the lowest tax in the world is a myth to fool Singaporeans. In reality Singaporeans pay much higher taxes than other developed countries like Canada.
Consider a person making $6,000 a month in Singapore and a person making a similar amount in Canada. Let us say the person in Singapore pays zero tax and the person in Canada pays his maximum without any deduction of 29.7% tax. Assuming both have a working life of 40 years and a life span of 85 years.
The person in Singapore pays nothing since we assumed his tax to be zero.
The person in Canada would have to pay based on annual salary of $72,000 at 29.7% = $21,384. Based on a working period of 40 years the Canadian would have to pay a total of $855,360. It should be less if deductions are taken into consideration but we give the advantage to Singapore to minimize arguments. The Canadian tax does seem high to Singaporeans. However when all the cleverly hidden taxes are taken in consideration, Singaporeans are paying more in taxes but not getting the social benefits enjoy by Canadians.
List of Singapore hidden taxes that Canadians do not pay::
1. COE - $60,000 every ten years assuming that a Singaporean changes his car every 10 years.
40 years needs to buy 4 COE = $240 ,000.
2. Cost of car like Honda Civic - $75,000 in Singapore vs $25,000 in Canada.
4 cars in forty years at the difference of $50,000 = $200,000
3. Road tax - $1,300 per year for 40 years = $52,000
4. Higher petrol price - $100 extra a month for 40 years = $48,000.
5. ERP - $100 extra a month for 40 years = $48,000.
6. Maid levy - $300 per month for 20 years (assuming a family only has the maid for 20 years
instead of 40 years or more) = $72,000.
7. General medical bills for 85 years at $1,000 a year = $85,000. (less than $100 a month)
8. Cost of housing, the difference between a similar house in Singapore vs Canada is $300,000 to as high as $1 million and more. We shall take the lower end of the difference = $300,000.
9. The water/gas/electricity bills are only one-third of Singapore’s making a savings of at least $102,000 based on a saving of $100 per month x 85 years.
The total savings for a Canadian is at least $1,147,000 or more depending on how many cars, maids and children he has.
This amount is more than adequate to offset the Canadian tax of $855,360 at 29.7%.
In addition the following is a list of social benefits that Singaporeans do not enjoy::
1. “Milk money” of $250 each child receive a month from the government from the day the child was born until age of 18 years - $250 x12 x 18 years = $54,000 for one kid. Two kids = $108,000.
2. Old age pension plus assisted income for retirees without any income, a retiree gets $1,250 or more a month until death. Assuming the retiree lives for 20 years = $300,000.
A couple could get a combined retirement income of $2,500 a month. even though they may not have been working. The total receivable for 20 years would be $600,000.
3. Retirees travel for free on all public transportation with limited black out time on weekends, i.e. trains, buses, ferries. Some of the ferry rides cost more than $100 per trip. Assuming a retiree saves $150 a month for transportation - 20 years of retirement = $150 x 12 x 20 = $36,000.
4. Retirees can study in universities for a token fee of less than $100 per year.
5. Unemployment insurance which a citizen can claim when he/she is out of a job. It is common for a person to be out of job for 6 months in his 40 years of working life - $36,000.
6. Free treatment of severe illness like cancel, liver or kidney failures - $200,000 or more.
Depending on the choice of lifestyles and individual health conditions, the Canadian tax system has an advantage of between $500,000 to over $1 million when compared with the Singapore tax system even though Singapore tax rate is low.
It is common knowledge that an average Singaporean cannot afford to get sick because the medical bills would bankrupt his/her entire savings. This should never happen to the richest country in the world!!!
In Canada, Healthcare service providers will do their best to guide and help patients without asking for payment as all citizens and permanent residents are covered by the government.
In Singapore, it is the opposite, the service providers will make sure that potential patients can pay for their services or treatments. It is typical "kiasu" Singapore culture.
The moral of the story is that we should not be fooled by statistics and world rankings. Singapore is ranked the richest country in the world with the highest per capita vs Canada at eleventh place with a lower per capita of $39,033. Do Singaporeans really feel richer when most Singaporeans have constant anxiety over inadequate savings for retirement, medical bills, being homeless, etc.
Most Canadians enjoy their retirement with peace of mind of having Universal Healthcare and retirement benefits. Canadians can walk into clinics or hospitals without any money in their pockets and be treated. On the other hand Singaporeans must have adequate funds before they step into clinics or hospitals.
Wing Lee Cheong