HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore Budget centres on senior population with a $6.1b fund

Beneficiaries will receive an annual medicine top-up of S$200 for the next five years.

Singapore’s finance minister Heng Swee Keat has announced in the Singapore Budget that $6.1 billion will be injected to support the country’s ageing generation.

The Merdeka Generation Package (MGP) would benefit around 500,000 Singaporeans born from the 1950s as well as those who obtained citizenship in 1996. The package is also extended to seniors born in 1949 who weren’t able to receive medical benefits from the Pioneer Generation Package

“The Merdeka Generation Package is a gesture of our nation’s gratitude for their contributions and a way to show care for them in their silver years. It will provide them better peace of mind over future healthcare costs, whilst helping them to stay active and healthy,” Heng said.

First off, seniors will receive a participation incentive of S$1,500 upon joining MGP. An annual medicine top-up of S$200 for the next five years until 2023. A S$100 top-up will be given to their Passion Silver cards to pay for activities in community clubs.

It is assured that all seniors will receive such benefits regardless of their income.

Seniors would receive additional subsidies as well, addressed for those with common illnesses, chronic conditions and undergoing dental procedures.

Lastly, the the merdeka generation will have MediShield Life premium subsidies. It will start from 5% of their MediShield Life premium, increasing to 10% every year until they reach 75% years of age.

“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,” Heng continued.

Other new healthcare schemes
A total of S$5.1 billion will be given to the new Long-term Care support fund, emphasizing on two upcoming schemes.

First, the Ministry of Health will introduce CareShield Life, the revamped version of the ElderShield scheme, in 2020.

This will provide lifetime coverage with higher monthly payouts of at least S$600 for seniors who have become disabled. Participation incentives are also offered to those born on or before 1979.

The second scheme is the ElderFund, directed for those who will not be able to join CareShield Life or have low MediSave balances. It aims to support severely-disabled and lower-income Singaporeans.

In addition, the government looks to extend the Community Health Assistance Scheme (CHAS) subsidies to those with chronic diseases. Subsidies for complex chronic conditions would also be increased.

The Ministry of Health is also looking to have CHAS clinics improve the tracking systems of patient’s progress and outcomes.

“We pay particular attention to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, to give them a good start in life. With increasing lifespans, we're helping older Singaporeans stay in the workforce, so that they can earn and save for retirement,” Heng added. 

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