SINGAPORE: Singaporeans born in the 1950s will receive more subsidies for outpatient care for life, MediSave top-ups and subsidies for MediShield Life premiums as part of a Merdeka Generation Package (MGP), Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during his Budget speech on Monday (Feb 18).
Termed the Merdeka Generation, this group will receive special subsidies for common illnesses, chronic conditions and dental procedures under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).
“All Merdeka Generation seniors will receive these enhanced subsidies, regardless of income, including those who do not have a CHAS card today,” he said.
The subsidy rates will be higher than those enjoyed by CHAS blue card holders, he said. CHAS blue card holders are eligible for a subsidy of up to S$18.50 per visit for common illnesses such as colds and coughs, and up to S$80 subsidy per visit, capped at S$320 per year, for simple chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension under the Chronic Disease Management Programme.
Beyond CHAS subsidies, they will have a quarter of their subsidised bills at polyclinics and public specialist outpatient clinics shaved off.
Beneficiaries of the package will be notified by April and receive their Merdeka Generation cards from June 2019.
READ: 'Substantial' Merdeka Generation Package to include some who missed out on Pioneer package: PM Lee
The package will also be extended to people born in 1949 or earlier and who obtained citizenship by 1996, as they missed out on the Pioneer Generation Package given to their age cohort. The criteria for the package was obtaining citizenship on or before Dec 31, 1986.
MEDISAVE TOP-UPS, MEDISHIELD LIFE PREMIUM SUBSIDIES
Under the MGP, people will also receive a MediSave top-up of S$200 annually for five years starting this year. This will be on top of GST Voucher-MediSave top-ups that eligible seniors aged 65 and above receive every year.
In addition, Merdeka Generation seniors, including those who obtained citizenship by 1996, will receive subsidies on their MediShield Life premiums for life. Those aged between 60 and 75 will receive a subsidy of 5 per cent off their annual premiums. This amounts to between S$31.50 and S$48.75.
Those aged above 75 will get a slightly higher subsidy of 10 per cent amounting to between S$110 and S$153. This will be in addition to the means-tested subsidies that Singaporeans are already receiving, Mr Heng said.
MONEY FOR ACTIVE LIVING, INCENTIVES TO JOIN CARESHIELD LIFE
The group will also receive a one-time S$100 top-up to their Passion Silver cards to support active lifestyles, Mr Heng said. Giving examples, he said the money can be used for public transport, activities and facilities at Community Clubs, and entry to public swimming pools.
“We will also work to introduce more active ageing opportunities for seniors, such as lifelong learning under the National Silver Academy and volunteerism under the Silver Volunteer Fund,” Mr Heng said.
Merdeka Generation seniors will also receive an additional participation incentive of S$1,500 to join disability insurance scheme CareShield Life, when it becomes available to existing cohorts in 2021. This will be on top of the S$2,500 participation incentive previously announced, bringing the total incentive amount to S$4,000 for this group.
READ: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong reiterates importance of CareShield Life for long-term care needs
This will cover a significant portion of their premiums, and is on top of the regular means-tested premium subsidies, Mr Heng said.
“I hope that this will encourage our Merdeka Generation seniors to join CareShield Life to have peace of mind against the risk of high long-term care costs,” he added.
The money for the package will come from a new Merdeka Generation Fund, for which he will set aside S$6.1 billion, Mr Heng said. He added that with interest accumulated over time, this will cover the full projected costs of the Merdeka Generation Package of more than S$8 billion.
Describing the package as a “significant commitment by the Government”, Mr Heng said it is important that the Government of the day continues to monitor the patterns and cost of healthcare utilisation and life expectancy over the next 30 years or more, so that the Government is able to meet this commitment.
“The Merdeka Generation will enjoy many key healthcare benefits for life. We hope that it will go some way in providing greater peace of mind for the Merdeka Generation and their families,” he said.