Singapore announced Monday that it will stop covering the medical bills of its citizens infected by COVID-19 if they are "unvaccinated by choice" starting next month.
The government has been footing the medical bills of Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement from the country's Ministry of Health.
"This was to avoid financial considerations adding to public uncertainty and concern when COVID-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease," the statement reads. "For the majority who are vaccinated, this special approach for COVID-19 bills will continue until the COVID-19 situation is more stable."
Those who are not yet vaccinated against the virus have been negatively influencing the country's attempts at getting the virus under control, the ministry wrote.
"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," the announcement states.
The new policy, which goes into effect Dec. 8, affects willingly unvaccinated people who are admitted to hospitals or COVID-19 treatment facilities. People who are ineligible for vaccination, including children under 12 years old or those with certain medical conditions, will still continue to have their health care bills covered if infected with the disease.
To date, 85 percent of the country's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 18 percent have received boosters, the ministry noted.