The Singaporean government will no longer foot the hospital bill for COVID-19 treatment for those who are "unvaccinated by choice," the country's Ministry of Health announced Monday.
The nation's government has been covering medical bills for COVID-19 treatment for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass Holders, unless an individual tested positive after returning from overseas travel.
"This was to avoid financial considerations adding to public uncertainty and concern when COVID-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease," the ministry said in a statement Monday. "For the majority who are vaccinated, this special approach for COVID-19 bills will continue until the COVID-19 situation is more stable."
At least 85% of the population of Singapore is currently vaccinated against COVID-19, and 18% have received booster shots, according to government data.
The Ministry of Health said unvaccinated people are making up "a sizable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our health care resources."
Currently, unvaccinated persons make up a sizeable majority of those who require intensive inpatient care, and disproportionately contribute to the strain on our healthcare resources.he ministry said, adding that the patients who are "unvaccinated by choice" will be charged for treatment starting December 8, and they "may still tap on regular health care financing arrangements to pay for their bills where applicable."
"Hospitals really much prefer not to have to bill these patients at all," Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said during a news conference, citing a report by Yahoo News. "But we have to send this important signal to urge everyone to get vaccinated if you are eligible."
The government will still cover treatment costs for those are ineligible for vaccination, including children under 12 years old and medically ineligible people.
"While we have extended a concession to those who are medically ineligible to be able to dine-in, enter malls and participate in activities where VDS is required, they remain unvaccinated and their risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and/or becoming severely ill remains real and very high," the ministry said in the statement.
"We strongly encourage these individuals to minimise such activities and to use this concession judiciously," the statement continued.