Channel NewsAsia

100 seniors receive Pioneer Generation cards

A big effort is underway to get these cards to the rest of the 450,000 Pioneer Generation seniors by the end of the month. Part of the Pioneer Generation Package welcome pack, the cards will enable seniors to access healthcare benefits. 

SINGAPORE: A hundred seniors became the first to receive Pioneer Generation cards on Friday (Aug 1). Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong handed out the cards to them at a launch event organised by the Health Ministry, and said a big effort is underway to get the cards to the rest of the 450,000 Pioneer Generation seniors by the end of this month.

The cards are part of the Pioneer Generation Package welcome pack, which is the Government's way of thanking those aged 65 and above this year for their contributions to Singapore. The package will allow seniors to enjoy better benefits when seeking medical care, and help them with their healthcare costs for life.

Among those present at this evening's event were former civil servants, grassroots leaders, healthcare workers, and volunteers. In a speech, Mr Lee said the contributions of the pioneers have shaped today's Singapore in many ways, and that he hopes  the package will help these seniors with their healthcare needs, and give them and their families greater peace of mind.

"Your contributions have shaped today's Singapore in so many ways. All of you have worked hard, and some have left a lasting legacy in the professions where you worked. We also have among us today, some Pioneers who contributed to Singapore's progress behind the scenes. They have been pillars of support in their own homes, to their spouses - husbands or wives, and their contributions are no less important and no less valued," he said.

Mr Lee also named some who have left a lasting legacy in the professions they served in, as well as others who have contributed to Singapore's progress behind the scenes.

One example would be Mrs Theresa Stewart, the widow of former head of civil service Stanley Stewart. He was head of civil service when Singapore became independent in 1965. Mrs Stewart, who turns 100 later this month, was the oldest senior in the audience today to receive the Pioneer Generation card.

Former grassroots leader V Thirupathy said that with rising healthcare costs, such expenses - especially for chronic illnesses - can become the heftiest burden for a family. "This Pioneer Generation package also lessens the financial burden on a family," he said.

Retired civil servant Foo Meng Wan echoed those sentiments. "Everybody raised the issue of medical bills being very expensive. But with this Government support, they are giving us additional funds yearly for us to buy our insurance," he said.

THE PIONEER GENERATION PACKAGE

There are three components to the package - special subsidies for outpatient care, Medisave Top-Ups, and life-long subsidies for MediShield Life. 

Under outpatient care, seniors would get an additional 50 per cent off subsidised treatments at Specialist Outpatient Clinics or polyclinics. All those who are eligible will also be put on the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), where they will get subsidies for medical and dental care at participating General Practitioners and dental clinics. Those who qualify for the new Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme (for those with moderate to severe disabilities) will receive cash of $1,200 annually.

As for Medisave top-ups, those eligible will get annual payouts of between $200 and $800, with older cohorts getting more.

For MediShield Life premiums, the aim is to fully cover the premiums of those aged 80 and above, after premium subsidies and Medisave top-ups are factored in, and half of the current premiums for those aged between 65 and 79.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia