Singapore Budget 2014 measures "debunk view that health-care is unaffordable": Khaw

The measures in the Budget and the Pioneer Generation Package will go ways to "debunk" the view that health-care is not affordable for seniors, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Sunday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
The measures in the Budget and the Pioneer Generation Package will go ways to "debunk" the view that health-care is not affordable for seniors, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Sunday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

The measures in the Budget and the Pioneer Generation Package will go ways to "debunk" the view that health-care is not affordable for seniors, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Sunday.

This is because of the greater health-care subsidies that seniors will be getting, he said.

Specifically for the pioneer generation members - those aged 65 and above this year and who became citizens before 1987 - they will receive more subsidies on outpatient care to help especially with treatment for chronic illnesses, Medisave top-ups and MediShield Life subsidies.

Taking the premium subsidies and Medisave top-ups together, someone who is 80 this year, will not need to pay any MediShield Life premiums at all, said Mr Khaw.

Seniors aged 55 and above, who miss out on the package, get help in the form of a five years of annual Medisave top-ups of $100 to $200.

"So with this Budget, where there is greater subsidy for health-care, and on top of that - the package for the pioneers - we have definitively debunked this comment that health-care is not affordable," he said on the sidelines of a post-Budget dialogue with grassroots leaders at Woodlands.

Aside from helping the seniors with their medical needs, Mr Khaw said the Government is considering extending the lease buyback scheme to the elderly living in bigger Housing Board flats.

The lease buyback scheme introduced in 2009 and enchanced last year, lets home owners sell part of their lease back to the Government, but this is only for three-room and smaller flats currently.

Although it has not been very popular, Mr Khaw said it would not stop the HDB from extending the scheme to bigger flats as it provides more options for seniors.

"I do not regard the low take up rate as a failure. I would just say that what it means is that people are not financially desperate to need to take advantage of those options. The options are there for those who need it. But that doesn't mean that we will stop at three-room flats. We can always consider," he said.