Singapore Budget 2014: Bumper health-care support package for Pioneer Generation

The much-anticipated package for Singapore's pioneer generation will give this group assistance with their health-care needs for the rest of their lives.

A bumper bundle of top-ups for Medisave accounts, help with outpatient medical costs and subsidies for MediShield Life premiums for the country's pioneers was unveiled by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament on Friday.

He said these benefits will apply to all Singaporeans who were at least 16 years old in 1965, when Singapore became independent. These 450,000 or so Singaporeans will not be differentiated according to income levels, because "our objective is to honour the contributions of this whole generation".

But lower-income pioneers will still benefit more through higher health-care subsidies for poorer Singaporeans, Mr Tharman added.

First, all pioneer Singaporeans will receive annual Medisave top-ups of $200 to $800 depending on their age group.

Pioneers will also get a further 50 per cent off their bills at specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics. Their total subsidies at specialist outpatient clinics will now amount to 75 per cent to 85 per cent of their bills.

In additional, all pioneers will also now qualify for the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which subsidises private GP and dentist visits. Previously, only the lower-income could qualify for CHAS.

For pioneers who are disabled or immobile, they or their nominated caregivers will get cash assistance of $1,200 a year.

Finally, pioneers will pay a subsidised rate for the upcoming MediShield Life universal health insurance scheme. Their premiums will be offset by 40 per cent for those aged 65, rising to 60 per cent for those aged 90 and above.

Mr Tharman made clear that for those aged 80 and above, the Government intends to fully cover their MediShield Life premiums through a combination of subsidies and Medisave top-ups.

For more news and analysis on Singapore Budget 2014, click here for ST's Big Story coverage.

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