Chronically ill, cash-strapped seniors need extra Medisave help

The amount by which to raise the Flexi-Medisave withdrawal limit need not be substantial such that it depletes one's Medisave, or results in wanton withdrawals.
The amount by which to raise the Flexi-Medisave withdrawal limit need not be substantial such that it depletes one's Medisave, or results in wanton withdrawals. PHOTO: ST FILE

Ideally, everyone would want to limit one's Medisave withdrawals but not all have that choice (Prudent to have limits to Medisave withdrawals, by Dr Yik Keng Yeong, May 4).

For those having to pay cash upfront at public healthcare institutions for medical treatments and whose costs have surpassed the Flexi-Medisave annual limit of $200, it is like having a savings account for the future but having to borrow for present daily subsistence.

The amount by which to raise the Flexi-Medisave withdrawal limit need not be substantial such that it depletes one's Medisave, or results in wanton withdrawals.

I am certain that the relevant authorities will see to this.

I am also certain that increasing the present Flexi-Medisave limit is not a case of opening the purse strings for medical expenses to balloon, or that it will empty out any Medisave nest egg.

As Dr Yik mentioned, the family's Medisave accounts could be tapped if the need arises.

Increasing the Flexi-Medisave annual limit will go a long way towards easing the financial burden of many retirees and seniors who are saddled with multiple chronic illnesses, and who are already spending many long hours at overcrowded public healthcare institutions and incurring heavy transport costs to go for frequent medical treatments.

The fact is that prevailing subsidies, though increased over the years, are not enough to cover the ever increasing medical costs, more so for cash-strapped retirees.

Both my wife and I, who are in our 80s, have chronic illnesses whose treatments have hit our Flexi-Medisave annual limit just five months into 2019, and we face the burden of paying cash for the next seven months for the many forthcoming medical treatments.

It is prudent to have limits to Medisave withdrawals. However, the request to increase the Flexi-Medisave annual limit is out of an urgent necessity for the chronically sick to stay medically treated. Any increase in limit will not come from government resources or coffers.

Robin Yiu

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2019, with the headline 'Chronically ill, cash-strapped seniors need extra Medisave help'. Print Edition | Subscribe