PAP lobby group wants more government help for seniors' healthcare needs

The PAP Seniors group wants the Government to increase public spending in six areas to ensure healthcare stays affordable for older Singaporeans, especially members of the pioneer generation. --ST FILE PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR
The PAP Seniors group wants the Government to increase public spending in six areas to ensure healthcare stays affordable for older Singaporeans, especially members of the pioneer generation. --ST FILE PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

The PAP Seniors group wants the Government to increase public spending in six areas to ensure healthcare stays affordable for older Singaporeans, especially members of the pioneer generation.

The new lobby group for ageing issues set out its six proposals in a paper released on Thursday.

They are for the Government to :

1) Pay a significant part of premiums for Medishield Life, a revamped national health insurance scheme that will cover everyone for life.

2) Increase insurance coverage on subsidised hospital bills.

3) Increase Medisave top-ups to help seniors pay for the deductibles, that is the portion of hospitalisation bills not covered by insurance.

4) Increase help for specialist outpatient treatments and non-subsidised medicines.

5) Tier the Medisave Withdrawal Scheme to allow more withdrawals by older Singaporeans.

6) Increase subsidies for long-term care and home-based care.

This call on Thursday comes three days before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is due to make an announcement on the Pioneer Generation Package, at an Istana Garden party being held this Sunday to honour the pioneers who helped build up modern Singapore.

Speaker for Parliament Halimah Yacob, who chairs the PAP Seniors group, said that for the help with Medishield Life premiums to really benefit members of the pioneer generation, it should be recurrent and not one-off.

This suggestion looks likely to be taken up. On Tuesday, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said that the healthcare help under the Pioneer Generation Package would be a long-term commitment and for 'so long as they are with us'.

On the call for a tiered withdrawal scheme for Medisave, Madam Halimah said older folk have more frequent need for medical treatment due to recurrent chronic ailments. Allowing them to withdraw more would help those with sufficient Medisave balances, as they will not have to pay cash when they visit outpatient clinics.

At the heart of the proposals, the PAP.sg paper said, is the recognition that the pioneers did much to build up Singapore but did not enjoy high wages, CPF or Medisave as do the current generation.

The paper, submitted to Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Tuesday, drew input from suggestions of over 100 participants at the PAP.sg's first dialogue last month. The group was set up in December.