Singapore’s Economic Review Committee recently released a report outlining its recommendations to lift the 3% goods and services tax that is currently levied on healthcare services within the country. Should the proposed tax lifting be implemented, both foreign and local users of Singapore’s healthcare system stand to gain. The report stated that the potential increase in healthcare revenue as a result of the tax lifting could raise the country’s share of the Asian healthcare market from less than 1% in 2000 to 3% by 2012.
Currently, approximately 150,000 foreigners utilize Singapore’s healthcare services. Most of these foreigners are from Malaysia or Indonesia. However, patients are beginning to turn to Bangkok, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for healthcare due to lower costs and more aggressive marketing by these cities.
Besides the lifting of the goods and services tax for healthcare, the committee also suggested the relaxation of immigration laws for entering Singapore for foreign patients as well as medical practitioners. The report will be submitted to the Singaporean government in January 2003, at which time a decision will be made regarding the proposed changes.