16% of eligible Singaporeans maxed out Flexi-MediSave limit in 2018: Edwin Tong

16% of eligible Singaporeans maxed out Flexi-MediSave limit in 2018: Edwin Tong

Edwin Tong parl Nov 5
Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong speaking at Parliament on November 5, 2019.

SINGAPORE: Around 136,000 - or 16 per cent - of eligible Singaporeans maxed out their Flexi-MediSave limit of S$200 in 2018, said Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong on Tuesday (Nov 5).

This was in response to a Parliamentary question by MP Saktiandi Supaat, who asked for the number of eligible Central Provident Fund (CPF) members who used up their Flexi-MediSave limit in the past year.

The Flexi-MediSave allows Singaporeans aged 60 and above to withdraw S$200 from their MediSave accounts each year to pay for outpatient medical treatments at specialist outpatient clinics, polyclinics and general practitioner clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).

Mr Saktiandi also asked whether the Ministry of Health (MOH) would consider reviewing the limit for older members who require frequent outpatient treatments.

In response, Mr Tong said that MOH cannot just "look at the affordability, but also at the longer-term sustainability in the use of the MediSave".

Since more than eight in 10 Singaporeans do not use the full limit of the Flexi-MediSave, "that gives us an indication as to where we have scoped it and that right sizing of that amount at this juncture", he added.

"MOH regularly reviews our healthcare financing schemes, including Flexi-MediSave," said Mr Tong, who pointed to several adjustments made over the past two years which allowed more people to benefit.

In August, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the National Day Rally that the CHAS scheme will cover all with chronic conditions regardless of income. 

This will be done through the new CHAS green tier, said Mr Tong.

The Merdeka Generation package also provides subsidies for members' outpatient treatments at CHAS clinics, polyclinics and public specialist outpatient clinics, he added.

Last year, MOH lowered the minimum age to qualify for Flexi-MediSave, from 65 to 60 years. 

The ministry also raised the MediSave withdrawal limit for outpatient vaccinations, health screening and chronic disease management from S$400 to S$500.

Mr Tong also responded to a question by WP MP Pritam Singh, who suggested allowing members in the upper tier of their MediSave account to withdraw additional sums for outpatient treatment.

"I think overall the objective is to ensure that the amounts are correctly-sized, and I would also suggest that those who may have exhausted the Flexi-MediSave amounts might also consider that there are other schemes in tandem with it.

"Just because you have Flexi-MediSave withdrawal limits reached or maxed out does not mean you can’t also deploy other schemes," he said.

Source: CNA/cc(mn)