SINGAPORE: Patients under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will from next year be limited to a maximum of 24 visits annually to clinics for common illnesses such as colds.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (Apr 30) that the move is aimed at improving the sustainability of the scheme, which enables Singaporeans from lower- and middle-income households to receive subsidies for their medical and dental care at participating clinics.
There is currently no annual cap on the total number of claims a patient can make for acute illnesses, although a patient is limited to four claims per clinic per month.
The new cap is unlikely to affect most CHAS patients as 99.5 per cent of them make fewer than 24 visits a year to clinics, said MOH, adding that the move could deter patients from clinic hopping.
Patients who need to make more than 24 visits a year can put in an appeal through their CHAS clinics, MOH added.
"One of the reasons we are strengthening the CHAS subsidy framework is that besides looking at the affordability, we are also looking at the sustainability of the subsidy," said Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min, who announced the changes at a media event at Jurong Polyclinic.
Dr Lam added that patients who make frequent visits to clinics might potentially require specialist care.
READ: NDR 2018: CHAS to be extended to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions, regardless of income
CHANGES IN DENTAL COVERAGE UNDER CHAS
There will also be changes to dental coverage under CHAS.
Claim limits for fillings will be standardised at S$30 for simple procedures, and S$50 for complex ones for blue CHAS card holders, whose household monthly income per person is S$1,100.
For the Pioneer Generation, the subsidies will be S$10 more for each category. The changes will take effect on Nov 1.
In addition, MOH also said that the Merdeka Generation will receive higher dental subsidies than CHAS blue card holders for services such as root canal treatment, polishing and denture relining and repair.
Best practices and utilisation rate for different procedures were taken into account in the changes to the dental subsidies, Dr Lam said.
Additionally, changes were made to streamline the CHAS application process. From August, applicants will only require the signature of one person from a household, instead of signatures from all members.
From September, Singaporeans may also apply for CHAS online with their SingPass.