Singaporeans will enjoy greater healthcare subsidies, more polyclinics and a dedicated healthcare package for people in their 60s, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced during the country’s National Day Rally this past weekend.
Costs of living in the country was a central tenet in the speech as the Prime Minister assured citizens that various policies were being undertaken to address increasing living costs. Among factors driving up living costs is increased healthcare expenditure.
“We want all Singaporeans to have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare,” Lee said. Broadly, he announced three ways that the government is addressing this:
Greater healthcare benefits
Singapore’s Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which provides subsidies for outpatient expenses to lower and middle-income Singaporeans, will now be extended to cover citizens with chronic conditions – regardless of income.
The scheme will provide help with regular medical bills as more citizens struggle with managing these conditions. In last year’s National Day Rally, Lee announced that one in nine Singaporeans suffer from diabetes.
Lee also announced improved financial support for the younger generation with CareShield Life, a scheme that covers all Singaporeans born in 1980 or later. It will out at least S$600 per month for life. Starting from 2020, the initiative is one attempt by the government to nudge the younger generation to think and plan for their old age earlier.
Improving healthcare facilities
Singapore is also turning its focus to boosting primary care, and increasing access to polyclinics.
This year, the Ministry of Health has been upgrading and constructing new polyclinics and other medical centres in the city, Lee said. The new Ang Mo Kio polyclinic also offers a senior care centre with day care, rehabilitation, and home care facilities to reduce trips to the hospital for the elderly.
By 2023, six more polyclinics are set to open in several neighbourhoods, boosting affordability of primary care. “We will make sure there are affordable, accessible, high-quality primary care all over Singapore,” said Lee.
Merdeka Generation Package
The Merdeka (Malay for independence) generation in Singapore includes those that were born between 1950 and 1959 – now in their sixties, and either retired or are soon to be retiring. “I think we owe something to them,” said Lee.
The Merdeka Generation Package will help meet medical expenses by providing outpatient subsidies and top-ups to the MediSave and MediShield Life funds – national savings and insurance schemes solely for healthcare payments. Lee went on to announce that the package will include payouts for long-term care.
As Singapore grows and prospers, Singaporeans will live longer and be more prone to lifestyle diseases. The government is setting the way to ensure citizens are prepared and equipped to better manage their health.
Image from PM Lee’s Facebook Page