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Higher healthcare subsidies for pioneer generation: Gan Kim Yong

Singapore's pioneer generation will get the highest amount of subsidies for outpatient care under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).

SINGAPORE: Singapore's pioneer generation will get the highest amount of subsidies for outpatient care under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced this on Saturday at a dinner commemorating the first World Family Doctor's Day at Marina Bay Sands.

He said the subsidies for the pioneer generation will be unique and better than those given to lower and middle income households.

For example, for common illnesses such as cold and cough, they will get a subsidy of S$28.50 per visit at participating general practitioner (GP) clinics.

This is S$10 higher than for those who hold the Blue Health Assist Card -- which is for those with a household monthly income per person of S$1,100 and below.

For complex chronic conditions, pioneers will receive up to S$540 in subsidies a year, compared to S$480 for those under the Blue tier.

Pioneers will also get higher subsidies for selected dental services, compared to those under the Blue tier.

The amount could range between S$21 and S$266.50 per procedure for pioneers, compared to between S$11 and S$256.50 per procedure for those on the Blue tier.

The subsidies depend on the type of procedures done.

Mr Gan said: "As with all CHAS beneficiaries, pioneers who are assessed to require specialist care can also be referred by CHAS clinics to the Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOCs) in the public healthcare institutions as subsidised patients. They no longer need a referral letter from our polyclinics."

Mr Gan said all those who qualify will receive the Pioneer Generation Card, with special CHAS benefits, by September.

The government had announced the S$9 billion Pioneer Generation Package at this year's Budget to recognise the contributions of the seniors in nation-building.

The package is targeted at Singaporeans aged 65 and above this year, as well as those who became citizens before 1987.

It is expected to benefit about 450,000 seniors. 

With the special card given to all pioneers regardless of housing or income, some seniors say the subsidies will go a long way.

Madam Sia Kim Lan, who suffers from chronic high blood pressure, is a beneficiary of the CHAS Pioneer Generation Package.

She said: "My household income is below $1,800. I have to see the doctor every month. I have an orange card. I was told I can only get a $300 deduction. With the Pioneer Generation Package I get up to $540 of deduction, so this will lighten my medical bills."

Mr Gan also pointed out the need to better integrate the different healthcare sectors.

He said some 200 GPs have access to the National Electronic Health Record, which shares patients medical records and information and improves care.

The Health Ministry hopes to double the number of GPs with access by the end of this year. 

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