Pioneer generation get generous subsidies for outpatient treatment

An elderly woman sits in the Pharmacy waiting area of Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic. The pioneer generation will receive more help with their outpatient healthcare needs than the poor now get. -- ST FILE PHOTO : JOSEPH NAIR
An elderly woman sits in the Pharmacy waiting area of Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic. The pioneer generation will receive more help with their outpatient healthcare needs than the poor now get. -- ST FILE PHOTO : JOSEPH NAIR

The pioneer generation will receive more help with their outpatient healthcare needs than the poor now get.

Announcing generous subsidies for citizens 65 years or older this year, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Saturday that their benefits will be "unique".

Today, lower to middle income families are subsidised when they go to their family general practice clinic.

Those whose household income divided by the number of people in the family is $1,100 or less get the blue Community Health Assist Card (Chas), while middle-income families with per capita income of up to $1,800 get the orange card with lower subsidies.

Speaking at the World Family Doctor Day dinner at the Marina Bay Sands, Mr Gan said pioneers will get a card that is "better than orange and blue".

He elaborated: "For common illnesses such as cough and cold, pioneers can receive a subsidy of $28.50 per visit, which is higher than the $18.50 for those on the Blue tier."

Similarly, they will receive higher subsidies for chronic and dental treatments than poor people holding the blue Chas card.

But unlike Chas card holders, there will be no means testing for pioneers, who qualify by virtue of their age.

The Pioneer Generation (PG) package announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the last National Day Rally is to recognise the significant contributions by them in the early days of nation building.

All who qualify will receive their PG card by September, which is when the subsidies for primary care announced last night starts.

Explaining the rationale, Mr Gan said a million people here already suffer from diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels and stroke.

He said: "As the population ages, we will be faced with not only a growing number of patients with chronic diseases but also patients with more complex comorbidities which will in turn place a heavier demand for healthcare services."

salma@sph.com.sg