Good if families can pool their Chas benefits

It has been estimated that of the 10 more years of longevity that Singaporeans now enjoy, almost eight-and-a-half years are due to improvements in detecting, treating and managing conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia.

The Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) has been helpful in defraying the costs of managing these conditions for the needy ("7th Community Health Centre to open"; March 14).

Where poorer patients used to ignore illnesses, were reluctant to be on regular medication, or underdosed themselves, doctors find that this group now follows their advice better.

It was reported that subsidies totalling $167 million were given out under the scheme last year. This is a large amount of money. But every cent is well spent if admissions to tertiary medical institutions can be avoided or delayed through effective subsidised primary healthcare, which will hold back the development of complications.

Channelling patients to the private healthcare sector also decreases the heavy workload on the polyclinics, where almost every patient also needs to be subsidised.

Improvements to the scheme can be made if families can pool their Chas benefits so that seniors who suffer from multiple chronic conditions can be treated effectively without compromise.

I look forward to extension of the scheme.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)