As part of the Singapore government’s efforts to care for the elderly, a slew of initiatives were announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the annual National Day Rally held on August 19 at the Institute of Technical Education in Ang Mo Kio.
These include greater healthcare subsidies, more polyclinics and a dedicated healthcare package for people in their 60s. With the high cost of living a key concern for many, PM Lee also shared that the government is following the issue closely and that various policies were being undertaken to address increasing living costs. One of these includes increased healthcare expenditure.
“We want all Singaporeans to have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare,” Lee said.
He highlighted the three areas in which the government is addressing this:
Greater healthcare benefits
Firstly, the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), the community healthcare scheme will now be revised to cover citizens with chronic conditions – regardless of income. Under the scheme, subsidies for outpatient expenses are provided to lower and middle-income Singaporeans. The scheme will offer assistance with regular medical bills as more citizens struggle with managing these conditions. One condition would be diabetes, in which one in nine Singaporeans suffer from.
There will also be improved financial support for the younger generation with the upcoming launch of CareShield Life in 2020. A national long-term care insurance scheme for those aged above 30, it will provide financial aid to those afflicted with severe disability with payouts of at least S$600 a month, for as long as care is needed. Premiums start at S$206 a year for men and S$253 a year for women at the age of 30. They will make 38 payments till the age of 67.
Improving healthcare facilities
The government is also looking towards boosting primary care for citizens as well as increasing access to polyclinics. New polyclinics and other medical centers have been built or upgraded with key facilities for visitors. For instance, the new Ang Mo Kio polyclinic also offers a senior care centre with day care, rehabilitation, and home care facilities which will allow the elderly to receive the necessary care at home instead of going to the hospital.
By 2023, six more polyclinics are set to open in several neighborhoods, boosting affordability of primary care. Through these initiatives, the government hopes to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality primary care all over Singapore.
Merdeka Generation Package
Finally, a special package was also unveiled for those that were born between 1950 and 1959. Known as the Merdeka (Malay for independence) generation in Singapore, most of these citizens are now in their sixties, and either retired or soon to be retiring.
Through this scheme, the government hopes to help this group with their medical expenses by providing outpatient subsidies and top-ups to both MediSave and MediShield Life funds – national savings and insurance schemes solely for healthcare payments. This will also include payouts for long-term care.
Given the longer life expectancy for Singaporeans and higher susceptibility to lifestyle diseases, the government is setting the way to ensure citizens are prepared and equipped to better manage their health.