Govt to review financing system for long-term care

Elderly participating in community activites under a sheltered activity centre in Toa Payoh on Feb 24, 2016.
Elderly participating in community activites under a sheltered activity centre in Toa Payoh on Feb 24, 2016. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Move among 70 initiatives unveiled under $3 billion Action Plan for Successful Ageing

A review of how Singaporeans pay for long-term care was one of 70 initiatives announced last night as the full report that lays out the $3 billion Action Plan for Successful Ageing was unveiled.

The long-term care financing system currently comprises government subsidies and insurance in the form of the ElderShield scheme.

Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said the Ministry of Health will review this system to provide better protection, while ensuring that it remains financially sustainable, "to reassure Singaporeans that they will be able to afford basic long-term care" if needed.

However, this is unlikely to take place in the near future.

Noting that the complicated MediShield Life scheme, for instance, has only just been implemented, Dr Khor said the Government will "need some time" to help Singaporeans better understand it.

She was speaking to reporters at an SGfuture dialogue on ageing, where she unveiled the report.

Announced in August last year, the Action Plan for Successful Ageing was developed through a series of public consultations from 2014 to last year.

The 70 initiatives include raising the re-employment age from 65 to 67 by 2017, building 40 more day centres for the elderly by 2020, and setting up a National Silver Academy to help seniors pursue their interests.

Some moves are already under way, such as a workplace health scheme that aims to help 120,000 workers aged 40 or older.

Workplace-specific health programmes have already been put in place for 12,000 such workers.

"We view the action plan as the start of a journey," said Dr Khor.

Last night's session was the first in a series of SGfuture dialogues that the Ministry of Health will hold. Future ones will look at how the Government and people can work together to implement ideas in the action plan and identify more projects that could be pursued.

At yesterday's dialogue, 60 representatives of voluntary welfare organisations, youth groups, schools, academia and the grassroots discussed the action plan and what else could be done to help Singaporeans cope with growing older.

One group proposed a mobile application to match elderly users who need help with volunteers. Another idea was to link older entrepreneurs with younger ones.

Participants said they found the exchange of ideas worthwhile.

Retired lecturer Rosemary Khoo, 73, appreciated "the sense that we are able to contribute as seniors and take ownership of ageing".

The full report, available as a printed booklet, can also be downloaded at www.successful-ageing.sg. Over the next few months, 40,000 printed copies will be distributed to the public and groups that participated in consultations.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2016, with the headline 'Govt to review financing system for long-term care'. Print Edition | Subscribe