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Health analysts waiting to see what will be covered by Pioneer Generation Package

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday gave some details of the Pioneer Generation Package, which will be announced in full in this year's Budget to be unveiled next week. Health analysts said the next question is what exactly will be covered by the package, and how much.

SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday gave some details of the Pioneer Generation Package, which will be announced in full in this year's Budget to be unveiled next week.

He said the package will help about 450,000 Singaporeans cope with their healthcare costs.

Health analysts said the next question is what exactly will be covered by the package, and how much.

The Pioneer Generation Package will provide greater support for individuals like 72-year-old Timah Abdul Rashid, so that expenses like her premiums for MediShield Life will be kept affordable.

There will also be help for her outpatient bills, with extra subsidies at polyclinics, specialist outpatient clinics and general practitioners under the Community Health Assist Scheme.

And there will be additional annual top ups to her Medisave account to help with her medical needs.

While these will help reduce the burden on her family, her daughter is worried that if her mother suffers from chronic disease that requires long-term medical attention, costs will become a concern.

Mdm Timah’s daughter, Ramona Redzwan, said: "Follow up treatments -- it will cost a lot, few hundreds. If Medisave could be used for those consultations charges and treatments, we could use the money for other… let's say, for children's education; more savings in case of emergency or rainy days."

Health economist Dr Phua Kai Hong said the implementation of the scheme is important to ensure everybody who deserves it will be covered.

He said it is easier to keep the scheme within the healthcare services in the public sector where it can be better regulated.

But the challenge is subsidising the cost of treatment at private hospitals.

Dr Phua, an associate professor of health and policy at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said: “Because there are all sorts of new technology, new types of healthcare from the supply side -- would that all be covered? I'm not so sure whether that is sustainable. We have to have clear rules and guidelines on what to cover and what not to cover, so it's probably easier to do it with the public sector."

He said the government should also consider healthcare subsidies for those who do not belong to the pioneer generation, so as to help them cope with their costs of living. 

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