We agree with Mrs Ng Kim Yong (Plug loopholes in financial assistance schemes; May 4) that financial assistance offered at public healthcare institutions is meant to help the poor and needy, and that those who can afford medical care should not abuse the system by making misrepresentations of their financial circumstances.
At our public healthcare institutions, patients who apply for financial assistance are interviewed by medical social workers.
The medical social workers seek to make a comprehensive evaluation of the patient's needs and means, and recommend the most appropriate assistance.
Patients are asked to provide supporting documents and give consent for the gathering of information from agencies such as the Central Provident Fund Board and social service offices.
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Periodic reviews are conducted to assess if the financial assistance should be adjusted due to patients' changing circumstances.
Those found to have made misrepresentations of their financial circumstances will have their assistance denied or withdrawn, or further action taken against them.
Through these measures, we seek to ensure that financial assistance is given to those who really need support, without making the process onerous for genuine applicants.
Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Director Corporate Communications Ministry of Health