From Nov 1, all Singaporeans suffering from diabetes, hypertension or other chronic illnesses can tap the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) for subsidies, and those who already qualify for it will receive bigger subsidies.
The introduction of the new Chas Green tier is for households with a monthly per capita income of more than $1,800 or a home with an annual value of more than $21,000.
Its holder can get up to $112 in yearly subsidies for a simple chronic condition, or up to $160 for a complex condition - meaning someone with multiple chronic conditions or one with complications.
Details of the new health assistance programme were announced by Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong in Parliament yesterday during the debate on his ministry's budget.
The Chas Green tier is in addition to the existing Chas Orange and Chas Blue, which subsidise treatment for common illnesses, chronic health problems and selected dental issues for lower-to middle-income Singaporean households.
Last year, about 630,000 patients benefited from Chas subsidies, Mr Tong said.
Singaporeans who were aged 16 and older in 1965, referred to as the Pioneer Generation, enjoy Chas benefits regardless of income.
From Nov 1, members of the Merdeka Generation, who were born in the 1950s and are in their 60s now, will also qualify for Chas benefits regardless of income.
Annual subsidies for the Merdeka Generation will be capped at $340 for simple conditions and $520 for complex conditions.
For common illnesses, the subsidy will be capped at $23.50 per visit. For dental services, the Merdeka Generation will get between $16 and $261.50 per procedure, depending on what it is.
This is higher than the Chas Blue tier for households in the lowest income bracket with a per capita monthly household income of $1,100 or less, but not as high as what the Pioneer Generation receives.
Subsidies for current Chas Orange and Chas Blue cardholders will also be raised by $20 a year, from $300 to $320 a year for Chas Orange and from $480 to $500 a year for Chas Blue.
Chas Orange cardholders can get a subsidy of up to $10 per visit for common illnesses from Nov 1. Currently, they do not get any subsidies for common illnesses.
"Collectively, we expect to pay out more than $200 million a year on Chas subsidies," Mr Tong said.
He added that the Health Ministry is working on simplifying the Chas application process to encourage more Singaporeans to sign up.
Online applications will be available from September this year.