SINGAPORE - Close to $160 million was given out through Medifund to help needy patients in the last financial year, an increase of 22.7 per cent over FY2013.
About a third of the money, $52.4 million, went to people aged 65 years and older.
Overall, there was a 30 per cent increase in Medifund use, such as for hospital admissions, outpatient clinic visits and stays in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes.
A press release from the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday said the higher amount ofhelp in FY2014 came from extending Medifund and Medifund Silver (reserved for Singaporeans aged 65 years and older) to more healthcare facilities.
Medifund was set up in 1993 to help poor Singaporeans pay for medical treatment. This is for people who cannot pay their bill, even after subsidies, insurance, Medisave and cash payments.
Singaporeans can apply for Medifund in public and charitable hospitals, at public specialist clinics and polyclinics, at nursing and aged homes and hospices.
For FY2014 which ended March 2015, 92 per cent of recipients received the full amount applied for.
Patients in C class wards received the highest amount, averaging $1,750 each. Those getting outpatient care - for which there were close to 900,000 visits - got an average of $95 per treatment.
Aside from medical treatment, Medifund can also be tapped on for dental care, antenatal care and delivery of babies.
The money comes from income earned from the capital sum of $2.78 billion in Medifund and $1.22 billion in Medifund Silver.
This is distributed to the 43 Medifund Committees that oversee the distribution of these funds to patients at 108 institutions.
The MOH said the Government has dedicated significant capital sums to reinforce the social safety net, adding that it is committed to ensure that Singaporeans have access to good and affordable healthcare.