Luxury cars showing up at free public clinics

Should the rich be allowed to get free medical treatments?

Free medical services in Singapore have attracted an unexpected crowd. 

Currently, over 30 clinics provide free traditional Chinese and Western medical treatment and consultations, and have been a hit with Singaporeans.

However, recent news about patients arriving in luxury cars have triggered conversation among netizens online. 

What's going on? 

On Nov 5, the Public Free Clinic Society officially opened its fifth free clinic in Bedok. Along with their branches in Clementi, Tampines, Jurong and Geylang, the clinics see over 650 patients daily.

Long lines formed outside the new Bedok clinic from as early as 6.30am – two hours before the clinic's official operating time.

While the clinic reports that most of these patients are from lower-and middle-income backgrounds, some of these patients were seen turning up in expensive luxury cars. 

A luxury car parked right outside the clinic at Bedok. 

This started a debate online on whether well-off patients should be allowed to opt for free medical treatment, or should the free services be limited to only the underprivileged?

Tay Xiu Qin, 19, who grew up in a single parent household, felt that it was unfair for the more privileged to use the services.

The Ngee Ann Polytechnic student said: "These clinics have obviously been set up to cater to the people who cannot afford the medical fees. Whenever I follow my mother to the Jurong West branch of this clinic, we end up waiting almost two hours just for a consultation. I don't think it makes sense for someone ill to be waiting so long to see the doctor." 

Some believe the rich should not be receiving free medical treatments.

First-year NUS student Chia Pei Xuan, 20, holds similar sentiments.

She said: "If the doctor tries to fit so many patients in a day, he has to see each of them briefly, resulting in lower quality consultations. If the clinics end up compromising quality just to fit everyone in, the whole purpose of the clinic becomes negligible." 

However, not everyone agrees with this.

Third-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student, Bryan Thniah, 19, feels that the public clinic should be available to all. 

He said: "We talk a lot about practicing equality in our country, so I don't see why the free medical options should be limited to anyone – rich or poor. They may have other reasons for going to the clinic besides the price, such as convenience or reliability." 

This sentiment echos the words of the Public Free Clinic Society's president. In an interview with The Straits Times, Seow Ser Fatt said that patients visit their clinics because they prefer the physicians working there. 

Ser Fatt also believes that the flexibility to donate any amount allows them to give from the heart. 

Some emphasised Ser Fatt's comment that the rich visit the clinic for the physicians, not free treatments.

What's your take? 

1. Do you think Public Free Clinics should be reserved solely for the underprivileged or made available to everyone? Why? 

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment on our article or social media platforms! Submit the best response by Nov 23 and win a $10 Esplanade gift voucher.