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COVID-19 treatment subsidies to be scaled back as Singapore progressively returns to normal: MOH

COVID-19 treatment subsidies to be scaled back as Singapore progressively returns to normal: MOH

Patients seen outside Geylang Polyclinic. (Photo: CNA/Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: As Singapore progressively returns to normal and the population learns to live with COVID-19, related coronavirus treatment financing schemes will be updated, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (Jun 10).

As part of the Government's pandemic response, COVID-19 treatments were provided "at a very low fee or free of charge", said MOH in a multi-ministerial task force press release.

This was beyond existing healthcare support in the form of Government Subsidies, MediSave, MediShield Life and MediFund (S+3Ms).

"As life reverts to normal and we increasingly live with COVID-19 as an endemic disease, we will need to progressively scale back the pandemic subsidy policy, and revert to the S+3Ms healthcare financing frameworks," said the ministry.

PHPC, POLYCLINIC SUBSIDIES

Since February 2020, more than 1,000 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) have been activated to provide subsidised care for patients with respiratory infection symptoms, whether due to COVID-19 or not.

Singapore residents pay a flat subsidised rate of S$10 while Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation seniors are charged a lower rate of S$5. 

From Jul 1, subsidies at PHPCs and polyclinics for the treatment of respiratory infections will revert to pre-COVID-19 levels.

The subsidised fees will no longer apply, but Singaporeans will continue to receive prevailing subsidies under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) at CHAS general practitioner (GP) clinics.

This does not affect antigen rapid tests (ARTs) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

PHPCs and polyclinics will continue to provide government-funded swabs to eligible symptomatic individuals at no charge, said MOH. 

TELEMEDICINE FOR PROTOCOL 2 INDIVIDUALS

Currently, Protocol 2 cases who request telemedicine care enjoy full subsidies. Protocol 2 cases are those who are mildly symptomatic, low risk, and recovering from COVID-19 at home

MOH said it will revert the subsidy policy to pre-COVID-19 arrangements from Jul 1. 

Full subsidy for telemedicine will cease, but Singaporeans will continue receiving CHAS subsidies if they visit a CHAS GP clinic for treatment.

Individuals under Protocol 1 - those at high medical risk or with severe symptoms, but are discharged home for recovery and under telemedicine surveillance - will continue to enjoy fully subsidised telemedicine care.

TREATMENT COVERAGE IN HOSPITALS

Singaporeans, permanent residents or long-term pass holders who seek emergency treatment for COVID-19 at emergency departments of public hospitals currently do not have to pay any emergency department charges. This is only for those who are fully vaccinated, or certified to be medically ineligible for vaccination.

From Jul 1, this will no longer apply to those who do not require admission after visiting the emergency department. MOH said this move will help them manage the demand for such services. 

Those who are assessed to require hospital or COVID-19 treatment facility admission will continue to have their emergency department, inpatient and/or treatment facility bills fully subsidised by the government.

Only those who are fully vaccinated or certified to be medically ineligible for vaccination are eligible for this subsidy. 

As part of ongoing COVID-19 surveillance, MOH said it will continue to monitor for virus strains introduced into and circulating in the community by requiring some infected individuals to take an additional government-funded PCR swab for genomic sequencing.

"Our daily caseloads have remained under control even with the significant easing of our community (safe management measures) and border measures. However, new variants will continue to emerge, and we must stay vigilant," said the Health Ministry. 

"We urge everyone to still take the necessary precautions and remain socially responsible to protect themselves and others, even as we move towards normalcy and living safely with COVID-19."

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments

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Source: CNA/ic(zl)

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