Singapore’s Healthcare Industry: An Overview

Singapore, a tiny city-state with a population of only 4 million, has one of the world’s strongest economies, with GDP per capita of US$28,000, similar to that of the United States. Singapore spends approximately US$2.5 billion per year on healthcare, for an average per person of US$790. Singapore’s expenditures dwarf most other Asian countries. On the other hand, Japan spends over US$2,000 per person per year on healthcare, and the U.S. spends over US$4,000 per person per year.

Singapore’s most pressing healthcare concerns are similar to those of many rich, industrialized countries: those stemming from an aging population. The number of Singaporeans over 60 is expected to reach 800,000 by 2020, the world’s fifth highest percentage increase. To prepare, Singapore is increasing healthcare budgets and restructuring government insurance plans. Healthcare financing is driven by individual responsibility and government plans, which include “Medisave,” a compulsory savings plan to help individuals pay for healthcare expenses, “Medifund,” a safety net for the poor and needy, and other smaller programs.

In addition, on April 1, 2001 The Health Promotion Board (HPB) was established to provide greater nation focus on major Singaporean health problems. Among the HPB’s first projects is a three-year national screening program for Singapore citizens 55 and above. Citizens will be screened for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It is estimated that 60% of those screened will be diagnosed with at least one of the above conditions, meaning increased market opportunities for companies with products that treat these conditions.