SINGAPORE: The annual Medisave withdrawal limit for chronic diseases, vaccinations and health screenings will be increased from S$400 to S$500 from June this year, Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat announced on Wednesday (Mar 7).
The new limit will be apply to outpatient treatments for 19 conditions under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) such as diabetes, hypertension and dementia.
The new limit will also be applicable for vaccinations - including those against pneumococcal and hepatitis B, and human papillomavirus for both children and adults - as well as screenings such as mammogram and colonoscopy. From June, the CDMP will also include ischaemic heart disease.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that that about 10 per cent of CDMP claimants have three or more chronic conditions.
“While they incur slightly higher bills compared to patients with fewer conditions, the higher CDMP withdrawal limit of S$500 per year will be sufficient to cover an average annual bill of a patient with three or more chronic conditions,” she added.
The current S$400 limit was sufficient for four in five subsidised patients who used Medisave for their CDMP treatment last year, she added.
Nevertheless, MOH has reviewed the limits to ensure it is sufficient to help patients cope with out-of-pocket costs, with the increase in CDMP conditions over the years, the spokesperson said.
The programme started in 2006 covering just five chronic diseases.
Over the last three years, about half of 440,000 CDMP patients were above 65 years old, MOH said.
Average withdrawals have been about the same for those above and below 65 years of age, the spokesperson added. The proportion of those who utilised at least S$400 under the current limit is also similar across both groups.
LOWER ELIGIBILITY AGE FOR FLEXI-MEDISAVE
Still, the eligibility age limit for Flexi-Medisave will be decreased from 65 to 60, Mr Chee said.
The scheme provides an additional S$200 - on top of the $400 withdrawal that is set to increase to S$500 - for the elderly for outpatient medical treatment at specialist clinics in public hospitals, national specialty centres and polyclinics; and participating Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).
EXPANSION OF CDMP AND CHAS
To encourage those with pre-diabetes to seek early intervention, the medical condition will be included under CDMP and CHAS from June this year. MOH will also extend the coverage of diabetes-related consumables under CDMP to lancets and test strips.
MOH said that about 430,000 Singaporeans aged 18 to 69 are estimated to have pre-diabetes. This estimate includes those who may not currently be aware of their condition, as well as those who may not be on active follow-up with a healthcare provider for their condition.
Individuals with pre-diabetes are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, MOH added.
Early diagnosis and lifestyle interventions such as maintaining a healthy diet and regular physical activity and follow-up with a healthcare provider can help prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes in persons with pre-diabetes.
The Government has introduced initiatives to get Singaporeans to assess their risks of having pre-diabtes and diabetes. MOH had enhanced government subsidies for the Screen For Life programme from September last year. As of February this year, close to 30,000 Singaporeans have benefited from enhanced screening subsidies. At the same time, the Health Promotion Board launched the Diabetes Risk Assessment tool to encourage adults aged 18 to 39 to assess their current risk for undiagnosed diabetes.
As of February this year, the tool has been used about 116,000 times by the target group. About 18 per cent of of individuals were assessed to be at higher risk of having diabetes.