Means-testing balances accuracy and simplicity

No Singaporean will be denied access to appropriate healthcare due to an inability to pay.
No Singaporean will be denied access to appropriate healthcare due to an inability to pay.PHOTO: ST FILE

We thank Miss Manjit Kour for her feedback on the means-testing criteria for healthcare subsidy schemes for households with no income (Criteria for means testing can be further simplified, Feb 22).

In general, these schemes are means-tested and tiered so that greater support is extended to lower-income households.

For households with no income, we take into consideration the annual value of their residence.

Households in which their homes have an annual value of $13,000 and below would be eligible for the highest tier of subsidies.

Annual value is the estimated gross annual rent of the property if it were to be rented out, excluding furnishings and maintenance fees. It is determined by the Chief Valuer's Office based on estimated market rentals of similar or comparable properties, and not on the actual rental income received.

The annual value of most HDB flats would fall into this category. For this group, they may be eligible for schemes such as the blue tier of the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly, Foreign Domestic Worker Grant, and Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund.

The Chas orange tier extends benefits to Singapore citizens from middle-income households so as to anchor chronic disease management in the community.

The income and annual value levels are higher. For households with no income, the annual value of residence is set at $21,000 or lower, which covers all HDB flats and some private properties.

We note that Miss Kour's mother is a 90-year-old Singapore citizen. If she is a Pioneer citizen, she would qualify for the Pioneer Generation Package benefits, regardless of income.

The healthcare benefits include additional subsidies at polyclinics, specialist outpatient clinics, as well as Chas GPs and dental clinics; annual Medisave top-ups; special premium subsidies for MediShield Life; and Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme.

In setting the criteria for means-testing, we aim to strike a balance between accuracy and simplicity.

We recognise that no criterion is perfect and therefore consider appeals from those who are in need on a case-by-case basis.

No Singaporean will be denied access to appropriate healthcare due to an inability to pay.

Lim Siok Peng (Ms)

Director, Corporate Communications Division

Ministry of Health

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Means-testing balances accuracy and simplicity'. Print Edition | Subscribe