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PAP seniors group calls for more help for medical care

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LEONARD LIM on 07 Feb 2014

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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A GROUP in the People’s Action Party (PAP) set up to champion ageing issues has recommended higher public spending in six areas to ensure health care stays affordable for seniors.


Observers said their ideas, released in a paper yesterday, may give a broad picture of how the Government plans to give medical help to the generation of Singaporeans who did not enjoy the high wages, Central Provident Fund (CPF) and Medisave contributions of the current generation.


The recommendations from the executive committee of the PAP Seniors group come three days before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gives details of the Pioneer Generation Package.


Topping the list is giving the pioneer generation “significant” help with premiums for MediShield Life, the revamped national insurance scheme that provides lifelong medical coverage.


The group’s chairman, Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, stressed that this help should be recurrent and not one-off.


This looks likely to be taken up. On Tuesday, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said health-care help for pioneers would be a long-term commitment, “so long as they’re with us”. The report also said the amount of subsidies should be reviewed as and when MediShield Life premiums rise.


Its second proposal calls for higher insurance cover on large subsidised hospital bills, especially for the pioneer generation and seniors outside the category.


Health Minister Gan Kim Yong touched on this on Tuesday, pledging that patients’ share of big hospital bills will go down once MediShield Life kicks in next year.


Two other proposals involve the national medical savings scheme. It wants higher Medisave top-ups to help seniors pay for deductibles – the portion of hospital bills not covered by insurance.


Also, introduce tiers in the withdrawal scheme so older Singaporeans can draw more for outpatient needs, the paper said. Currently, everyone can use up to $400 from their Medisave for specified outpatient medical services. But older folk need treatment more often, Madam Halimah said.


The six suggestions followed input from more than 100 participants at the group’s first dialogue last month, and address concerns highlighted by elderly residents, health-care professionals and voluntary welfare organisations.


MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC Chia Shi-Lu said: “These things have been bandied around for a while now, so you can expect something along these lines when the pioneer generation announcement is made.”


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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