Budget 2013: More funds poured in to meet eldercare and healthcare needs of low-income households

The Government is introducing further support to meet Singaporeans' healthcare needs in Singapore Budget 2013.

It will expand the existing Senior's Mobility Fund into a Senior's Mobility and Enabling Fund, which will cover a much wider range of assistive devices, such as hearing aids, shower chairs and motorised wheelchairs. Singapore Budget 2013 will also top up the fund from the current $10 million to $50 million.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his Singapore Budget 2013 speech on Monday that many frail elderly living at home are concerned with the cost of consumables, such as milk feeds and diapers, which can be a costly burden. The Government will thus provide subsidies of up to 80 per cent to lower-income elderly to help defray the cost of consumables. For example, an elderly patient in need of milk feeds can save up to $2,000 a year.

Medifund will be topped up by $1 billion, bringing the total fund size to $4 billion.

The ElderCare Fund will be raised by $250 million to $3 billion this year to support patients tapping on subsidised nursing homes and other long-term care services.

The Government will also enhance the Public Assistance (PA) scheme, which provides a basic level of financial assistance to those who are permanently unable to work. This monthly cash aid for households will be raised to help recipients meet their daily needs. For example, a couple will now receive an additional $90, making up $790 in cash assistance. A recipient in a single-person household will receive $450 in cash. PA recipients will continue to receive other free services like medical treatment in polyclinics and restructured hospitals.

To help government pensioners who draw lower pensions, the Government will increase the Singapore Allowance and monthly pension ceiling by $20 a month to $280 and $1,210 respectively. This will benefit about 10,000 pensioners.

The Government will also inject another $200 million into the ComCare Fund and an additional $10 million grant to self-help groups to help them enhance their programmes over the next two years.

The Government will also improve how it delivers social services. Twenty social service officers will be introduced in HDB towns over the next few years. Aged care services will also be integrated under the Agency for Integrated Care.

For more news and analysis on Singapore Budget 2013, click here for ST's Big Story coverage.