Letter of the day

Suggestions to boost Screen for Life's take-up rate

In its answer to a parliamentary question posed by Aljunied GRC MP Leon Perera, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that between September 2017 and December last year, more than 100,000 individuals benefited from enhanced Screen for Life (SFL) subsidies.

The SFL programme provides subsidies for screening for conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cervical cancer, high blood cholesterol and colorectal cancer.

MOH also said it welcomes "suggestions from the public on how to further improve the health aspect including screening uptake amongst Singaporeans".

One suggestion I propose is to offer a discount on MediShield Life premiums to those who go for screening and receive results that show that nothing is out of the ordinary, which would include having a healthy body mass index.

This would motivate people to stay healthy to qualify for the discount, and would likely boost SFL uptake.

Some insurers, like NTUC Income, reward policyholders with shopping vouchers for those whose results show that everything is normal, including those who go for SFL screening.

Another way to boost the take-up rate for SFL could be to address the misconception the public may have that SFL screening is too "basic", and not comprehensive enough compared with pricier executive health screening packages.

The Academy of Medicine, Singapore issued its health screening recommendations in 2019. All tests in SFL fall under the academy's Category 1, which means "there is good and robust evidence that the screening test is both clinically effective and cost effective for use to screen the population".

Having more items in health screening packages does not necessarily make them better, and do come with potential risks such as unwarranted radiation exposure and false positives.

I have gone for SFL screening twice, and have been rewarded by my insurer for test results that showed everything was normal.

It is better to know one's state of health and intervene at an early stage before a disease becomes irreversible.

Liu I-Chun

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Suggestions to boost Screen for Life's take-up rate'. Subscribe