Medifund to be expanded, other healthcare subsidies out in Budget: Dr Amy Khor

Singaporeans at government feedback unit Reach's first pre-Budget dialogue for the year sharing their views at the National Library Building on Thursday, Nov 28, 2013. Medifund will continue to be expanded as one of the ways to he
Singaporeans at government feedback unit Reach's first pre-Budget dialogue for the year sharing their views at the National Library Building on Thursday, Nov 28, 2013. Medifund will continue to be expanded as one of the ways to help Singaporeans cope with large hospital bills, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor said. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

Medifund will continue to be expanded as one of the ways to help Singaporeans cope with large hospital bills, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor said yesterday.

A safety net for the very poor, Medifund is a government endowment fund that helps those in need pay for their hospital bills. Last year, it paid out $100 million.

Dr Khor was speaking at government feedback unit Reach's first pre-Budget dialogue for the year, at which she also said the Budget would have details on some other measures to help people with health-care costs.

These include the move to expand the Community Health Assist Scheme, or Chas, to family members under age 40, in households with monthly per capita income of $1,800 or less. Holders of the Chas card are entitled to subsidies at hundreds of private general practitioners and dentists. Details on higher subsidies for specialist outpatient clinics will also be out in the upcoming Budget, Dr Khor said.

The Government's ongoing review of national health insurance scheme MediShield will also look into how to help people in terms of large bills, she added.

Dr Khor, who is also the chairman of Reach, spoke at the end of last night's dialogue in which some 60 Singaporeans took part. The two-hour event was held at the National Library Building.

They discussed issues such as how to build a more inclusive society and to help businesses. The participants ranged from students to businessmen. Several expressed concerns about vulnerable groups in society, such as the elderly, low-income and disabled.

The public can also give their views on the upcoming Budget at www.reach.gov.sg/budgetsg or join in the discussion forums until Jan 29.

From Dec 12, netizens must log into the Reach website discussion forum using their Facebook accounts, before they can comment.

In a short note to Reach contributors posted on the Reach website, Dr Khor said of the move to require users to register: "We hope this enhancement will strengthen trust within the Reach community and further enhance Reach as a safe harbour for discussions to take place."