Plug loopholes in financial assistance schemes

I have been a volunteer escorting poor, needy, elderly and disabled patients to hospitals and polyclinics for years. I also take them to meet medical social workers to apply for financial assistance.

I have noticed many instances of patients abusing the system through lies and misrepresentations.

When applying for financial assistance, patients are required to produce their newly updated bank book.

However, some patients have more than one bank account, and they show the bank book with the lowest balance.

In many cases, these patients leave only up to $1,000 or $2,000 in that account to give the impression of poverty.

A social worker once discovered that an elderly patient had close to $30,000 in another account.

Patients who lie to get financial assistance are no different from thieves robbing taxpayers and the Government.

Another patient was found to have withdrawn his bank savings and about $150,000 from his Central Provident Fund account, and put the money in various unit trusts and fixed deposits. This was so he could apply for 100 per cent financial assistance and pay low rates at a nursing home.

On one occasion, I overheard a patient teaching another hopeful applicant tricks like these and telling him to lie to the social worker that he had no other savings.

Financial assistance offered at government medical institutions is meant to help the poor and needy. Patients who lie to get assistance are no different from thieves robbing taxpayers and the Government.

We need to plug the loopholes to ensure that the truly needy qualify for assistance and that those who can afford it do not get a free ride.

Ng Kim Yong (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2017, with the headline 'Plug loopholes in financial assistance schemes'. Print Edition | Subscribe