Everything About What MOH Will Do in the Near Future As Revealed in MOH Budget Debate

Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung shared some great forecasts on our healthcare scene in the 2024 Budget Debate on 6 March 2024. 

Amidst the gloomy, rainy weather and the stray coughs and sneezes in the MRT (which makes you regret not bringing a mask out), the Ministry of Health (MOH) is our ray of sunshine as Mr Ong addresses the two main issues thundering on our healthcare – capacity and costs. 

If you didn’t catch the 50-minute speech, here’s a summary of everything you need to know. 

Bigger and Better Hospitals

Mr Ong responded to the issues raised by various MPs such as Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Ang Wei Neng and Associate Professor Jamus Lim, specifically on long waiting times and limited spaces in our polyclinics and hospitals.

Clearly, they’ve seen and heard your rants online too. 

He attributed these problems to our ageing population and our aunties and uncles facing complicated health issues that cannot be resolved overnight. 

Since we haven’t found the magic potion that stops ageing, MOH wants to “tackle the challenge more fundamentally” by expanding capacity. 

On top of the 640 new beds in acute and community hospitals made available since June 2023, another 4,000 beds will be added by 2030. 

It’ll be done in bits, 700 beds in Woodlands Health starting next year and in 2025, 350 beds (converted non-clinical areas) in Sengkang General Hospital (SGH) and in Outram Community Hospital in 2026, another 300 beds the following year and more progressively in other areas till 2030. 

The steady stream of beds available annually will promise no sick man stranded. 

But wait, there’s more.

New Hospital in Tengah

An exciting development for the Westies is the new regional hospital located in Tengah, run by the National University Health System group. 

That’s one more argument in support of the West Side Best Side debate, especially the young couples who’ve BTO-ed at Tengah Town

Mr Ong mentioned that it will “best complement current hospitals in the West” including Ng Teng Fong General Hospital and Jurong Community Hospital.

Thus, from what we know, there’s a promise that the upcoming Tengah Hospital will be modern and accessible, and we can perhaps avoid the World War Z crowd near Jurong East MRT. 


No, it’s not about the KTV mics you sing with at home (and the ones your neighbours despise).

MIC@Home is short for the Mobile Inpatient Care-at-Home program which allows patients to be cared for at home instead of in the grey, humid, noisy room we call a hospital ward. 

It was launched in April 2022 as a way to reduce pressure on bed availability and become a convenient option for caretakers and patients. 

The best part is, it doesn’t come with a huge hole in your wallet like you might expect private, home-care services to be. Mr Ong assured us that “all our hospitals intend to price MIC@Home similar to or lower than a normal ward”.

To those who really need it, your MediShield Life and MediSave can help with the financial demands. 

By 2024, 300 MIC@Home beds can be expected. This way, your loved ones can visit you, you can have your favourite blanket to keep you warm, and you can hopefully sleep more comfortably. 

More Funding 

Generally, our community hospitals can expect to have more funding. This is especially useful for cases where patients need to be transferred from acute hospitals, get subsidised diagnostic services like brain scans and have more expensive (and by extension good) medicines. 

More funding also means that the gahmen can afford to give more subsidies. You can save up on hospital bills when the subsidy framework ensures that the rate remains the same even if you transfer from community to acute. #girlmath

MOH is also planning to review MediShield Life. Mr Ong reminded us of the aim of the insurance scheme: “It covers everyone for life, even those with pre-existing illnesses. It is specifically designed for the great majority of subsidised patients who are encountering a major health episode.”

With current increases in healthcare costs, the coverage of MediShield Life has gradually reduced to the point where even co-payment is not enough. Therefore, they aim to increase the claim limit and negotiate for lower cancer drug prices in hopes of reducing out-of-pocket spending. 

Normalising Telehealth

Online doctor consults have been a godsend. No need to be ashamed, many of us are guilty of chatting with a doctor from Doctor Anywhere to get an MC last minute. 

Do it enough times, our gahmen will inevitably sus us out. But we all can agree that it saves time and it’s more convenient than going all the way down to a polyclinic while our noses are fighting for their lives against never-ending mucus. 

That’s why they are encouraging us to use telehealth services. Our gahmen recognises how useful they can be especially for chronic patients. 

They no longer need to come down to the polyclinic or hospital for a follow-up. They can do so from home. 

However, they are standing firm with not letting abuse Doctor Anywhere for common sickness like flu or fever. MediSave will still not cover consults for those symptoms in hopes that we exercise “greater discipline”. 

Healthcare Heroes 

Remember when we celebrated and appreciated our frontline healthcare workers during COVID-19? If you think that’s enough to keep the industry afloat, think again. 

We need to do more to ensure the backbone of our society remains strong. How else to do that other than to take care of existing and aspiring healthcare professionals? 

In response to Mr Ang Wei Neng and Dr Tan Wu Meng’s concerns over healthcare manpower, Mr Ong said that Singapore has been actively recruiting doctors and nurses. 

In fact, MOH is offering incentives, in the form of awards and grants, to call back Singaporeans who go to med-school overseas so that they can contribute locally. They are also trying to ensure that our healthcare heroes are being paid for their hard work fairly. 

Healthier SG

The Health Promotion Board’s national preventative healthcare initiative, Healthier SG, has seen promising outcomes since its launch in July 2023. 

(And many posters, of course)

This includes free vaccinations and health screenings for 124,000 people, 765,000 residents closely working together with their chosen family doctor and overall increased participation in exercise sessions. 

If you have recently joined a Zumba class despite not liking exercise all that much, steady lah! MOH saw that many people are becoming more active since the launch of Healthier SG. 

Mr Ong said that they will improve this initiative further with a wider range of health protocols including screenings for early chronic disease detection and more personalised health plans. 

Yes, it’s no longer just “drink more water” or “why not go for a run?”. The health plan will be unique to you and your needs!