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Singapore government will stop covering COVID medical costs for unvaccinated residents

Following a concerning case rise, unvaccinated Singapore residents will now have to pay their own COVID-19 related medical costs.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) says they’ve been covering the COVID-19 related medical costs of all Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders since the start of the pandemic.

This is set to change on December 8th when all COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated by choice will have to front their own medical bills.

Masked pedestrians in Singapore on Nov. 3. Credit: Caroline Chia via Reuters

In the past 24 hours, Singapore reported 14 deaths from COVID-19 and 2,470 new cases.

While explaining its position, Singapore’s MOH has stated that unvaccinated residents contribute disproportionately to the strain placed on the country’s health care system.

Children under 12 and those unable to receive a vaccine will still have their medical bills covered. Furthermore, residents who have already received their first vaccine dose will have until December 31st to be fully vaccinated.

In a statement the MOH has said, “[The government has paid for medical expenses] to avoid financial considerations adding to public uncertainty and concern when COVID-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease,” adding that, “For the majority who are vaccinated, this special approach for COVID-19 bills will continue until the COVID-19 situation is more stable.

Singapore’s unvaccinated population is minimal, at less than 15%, yet their disproportionate makeup of COVID-19 hospitalisations has led the MOH to implement these new rules as an incentive to get vaccinated. In the past week, of those critically ill with COVID-19, vaccinated and not fully vaccinated were at 0.5 and 5.2 per 100,000 population respectively.

Singapore’s health minister has praised the countries vaccine rollout thus far, stating that if it weren’t for this “our hospitals and ICUs today would have been already overwhelmed.”

This move represents a larger shift in Singapore’s COVID-19 approach with aims to resume activities like sports, meetings and conferences for the fully vaccinated, subject to additional rapid testing. These options will not be offered to Singapore’s unvaccinated residents.