Monday 5 June 2023

Personal Updates: Health Crisis and Medical Emergency.

I must say that age seems to be catching up with me. Over the past few months, I have been battling with 2 health scares. Personally, I think that the state of our Singapore public health care system is worrisome with insufficient medical resources. Let me share my recent experiences due to my recent health crisis:

1. Severe diarrhoea that persist for half a year.
(i) This is something that is abnormal and at one point, I thought that I have colon cancer. Went to visit the private General Practitioner near my home but was told by the doctor to watch my diet, take medication for a week and rest. 

(ii) After seeing that there is no improvement, I made a call to the polyclinic for an urgent appointment to see the doctor. Reason being that I was told my relatives that referral by polyclinic to specialist is the only way to get government medical subsidy for costly medical tests and treatment in event that it turned out to be dread disease. The polyclinic doctor does not think there is anything serious but wrote a referral for urgent colonoscopy to be done at public hospital.

(iii) Despite “urgent” referral, my appointment for further examination only took place 6 months later. 3months wait for an appointment to see the government specialist at hospital and another 3 months wait to get a slot for colonoscopy. I tried to ask for earlier appointment in view of severe diarrhoea that persist after medication but was told that there are no available slots. 

(iv) After finally doing the scope 6 months later and doing a biopsy on some polyps, doctors did not detect any serious abnormality. I was just wondering had it really been serious, I may have already died waiting for 6 months just to do a scope. Our public healthcare is quite scary. The next time I think I better opt for private specialist route and just have to bite the bullet to pay astronomical medical fees. 

(v) The doctors were unable to treat my conditions with the medication other than telling me to watch my diet and also to take probiotics. In the end, I recovered fully taking Traditional Chinese Medicine based health supplements with ginger and red date as main ingredients and cost only S$35 which is a tiny fraction of the medical cost incurred to date to seek medical treatment. 
This is the cheap TCM supplment that saved me from non-stop diarrhoea and colon issues-a simple formula of Red Date, Perilla, Licorice Root, Ginger, Alfalfa Powder, Papaya  

2. Upper and lower respiratory tract infection and asthma
This happened 2 months back. My kids brought back flu virus from school and spread to me. While they recovered fast, I got very sick with lots of wheezing. 

(i) Went to see my usual General Practitioner for 4 times in 2 weeks but to no avail. The GP doctor also refused to prescribe me stronger anti-biotics when I told her that the previous ones given has no effect. The GP doctor insisted that I have no infection as I do not have fever and it was just my asthma acting up.

(ii) I used to visit a respiratory specialist at Orchard Road area whenever the General Practitioner is unable to resolve my respiratory illness but to my horror, the expert doctor whom I consulted (whenever I am at my wit’s end), had passed away due to old age- he was 80 years old plus.  

(iii) Left with limited choice, I went to Mount Elizabeth Hospital for urgent treatment since the junior doctor at neighbourhood clinic had no idea what to do and I feel like my lungs are drowning. I was fortunate to have found a good respiratory specialist there. The specialist said that he suspected  that I have pneumonia after listening with his stethoscope and immediately sent me for X-ray (the amazing thing about private healthcare is that taking the X-Ray and waiting for results took less than 30 mins). 

(iv) Turns out that I was having a nasty bout of bronchitis and the specialist immediately prescribed me the right kind of antibiotics to resolve the infection as well as a new type of inhaler for the asthma. Interestingly, one does not need to be displaying symptoms of fever if you have serious chest infection. Had I continued to visit the GP clinic near my home for treatment or wait for further referral to public healthcare specialist, I would probably have ended up being hospitalized or even dead due to their incompetence. 

(v) However, I must say that private healthcare is damn expensive. Every follow up visit for treatment is around S$500 every 1-2 months.

While viral infection does not need anti-biotics, it can lead to subsequent bacteria infection- this seems to confuse some inexperienced doctors at neighborhood clinics who adamantly refuse to prescribe anti-biotics and just treat a patient for only asthma

Parting thoughts:
(a) I see that recently, there are some discussions on lowering one’s monthly expenses for attaining early financial independence. My thoughts are that it is not exactly that easy given that as one advanced in age, many chronic illness or dread disease will follow. This needs to be taken into consideration in one’s financial planning and early retirement plan when it comes to decision making time on resigning from one’s job (before the official retirement age) and to draw down on one’s passive income or capital built up. 

(b) For Hospitalization and Surgical medical insurance plan (H&S), one shall keep the private hospital option open instead of just opting for the cheaper public and restructured hospital option. As aforesaid mentioned, for public healthcare, you will be made to wait in a long waiting queue relative to getting consultation and treatment at private healthcare. One may seriously end up dead while waiting for medical consultation or essential test in public healthcare. 

(c) Do also note that not every medical consultation/treatments are covered under H&S plans. For example, all costly consultations prior to being officially warded will not be covered if it turns out that no hospitalization is required. 

(d) Insurers previously also disallowed medical diagnostic scope test claims until the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) wrote in on public forum in September 2020 to put pressure on the insurance companies. Even all cancer treatment that used to be available has now been controlled. The point that I am trying to drive across here is that having a H&S plan does not mean one is covered in all medical treatment procedures. So, one needs to prepare certain level of financial protection or buffer before choosing FIRE. 

Anyway, not sure whether it is just me only on my rather pessimistic views above on public healthcare as well as being too conservative on the required medical expenses for financial planning, do share your own experiences thus far. :)


  1. Hi Capricon, what is your email address?

    The GP and the colon specialist are unable to identify the cause other than mentioning maybe due to 2 incident of food poisoning that happened within a few weeks of one another that led to drastic weakening of the stomach condition.

  2. Hi Blade, hope things return back to normal for you soon! I share the same sentiment as you, it's best not to rely too much on public healthcare. Too much is out of our control... wishing the best for your health!

    1. Hi PL, thank you for your well wishes. So glad to hear from you. Think you should have completed your 9 weeks of BMT and vocational training…….time flies wor from end of March 2023! Trust all’s well at your side.

    2. Hey Blade! Just completed BMT and have received my posting orders. Starting my unit journey tomorrow! Got the rare recce vocation since I didn't opt for command school. NS regimentation was not for me haha! Quite shocked since only ~30 out of the entire batch are recce. My batch is mostly combat support vocations though. Not sure what's in store for me but hopefully once I'm done with unit training and become a "lao jiao" soldier I can get back to blogging! Been reading all your blogs in my free time so hope you continue blogging!

    3. PL, you must have impressed your commanders with your performance during BMT for them to assign you to recce vocation….venturing far ahead into enemy territory for intel before the main body need to have great endurance as well as other innate abilities like strong topo skills. You take care for now and hope to have you back at the local blogging scene soon!

    4. Hope to have a fulfilling life as a recce! Do take care of your health Blade, cya around and thanks for the well wishes!

  3. Wonderful article! Thanks for sharing such insightful information.
    General Practitioner