Health subsidies to benefit 1.2m people as pioneers join scheme

(Left) Dental Surgeon Chua Chew Kiat Simon Jude explains the CHAS scheme to seniors (second from right) Gan Bee Yan, 60, and (right) Ang Ng Tee, 65, on Aug 29, 2014. From Monday, Sept 1, all pioneer generation members will be placed on CHAS, allowing
(Left) Dental Surgeon Chua Chew Kiat Simon Jude explains the CHAS scheme to seniors (second from right) Gan Bee Yan, 60, and (right) Ang Ng Tee, 65, on Aug 29, 2014. From Monday, Sept 1, all pioneer generation members will be placed on CHAS, allowing them to receive subsidies for medical and dental care at GPs and dental clinics near their homes. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

This is nearly double the number that qualified for such assistance in Jan

On Monday, 1.15 million people will be able to pay less at some GP and dental clinics, as subsidies kick in for 300,000 pioneer generation members.

This is nearly double the number that qualified for such benefits in January.

"In fact, a doctor has actually told me that some pioneers have already called up to pre-book appointments for September," said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor yesterday, during a visit to GP and dental clinics in Bedok South.

Now, there are 850,000 people on the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), a nationwide programme for middle- to lower- income households.

This includes 150,000 pioneer generation members who had previously qualified because of their income level or housing type.

The remaining seniors will join the scheme, which gives them subsidies at more than 1,100 participating GP and dental clinics, on Monday.

On the same day, lower- to middle-income Singaporeans will also start getting subsidies of between 60 per cent and 70 per cent at specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs) - more than the 50 per cent subsidy for regular patients.

On top of this, the pioneer generation will get an extra 50 per cent off at these clinics.

But Dr Khor stressed that these additional subsidies are applicable for subsidised bills only.

Those who wish to seek subsidised care should see a polyclinic doctor or - for those who have Chas cards or belong to the pioneer generation - a GP on the Chas scheme, she said.

"If need be - if the doctor assesses that they need specialised care - then they can be referred to the SOC for subsidised care," she said.

Dr Khor also said she had received queries from pioneer generation members on whether they should still apply for Chas cards.

She suggested that those who fall in the lower- to middle- income bracket should do so, as this means they would get even higher subsidies at SOCs.

One person who has already booked her slot ahead of time is housewife May Leong, 65. Yesterday, she made a dental appointment for January next year.

"I know the scheme starts in September, so I wanted to see what kind of dental benefits they had available," she said.

Dr Lim Yong Chin of Access Medical Bedok South said he has been receiving more queries about the Pioneer Generation Package in the past month.

He added that one of the most common questions is how much subsidy they will be getting.

"I try and explain it in terms of the average bill cost," he said. "That makes it a lot more real for them."

linettel@sph.com.sg

SEE FORUM