SINGAPORE - From Nov 1, all Singaporeans suffering diabetes, hypertension or any other chronic illnesses can tap the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) for subsidies, and those who already qualify for it will receive bigger subsidies.
A new Chas Green tier has been introduced 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 if they have a complex condition, which is one with complications or multiple chronic conditions.
This new health assistance programme was announced by Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong in Parliament on Wednesday (March 6) 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.
In 2018, 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 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 more generous 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 less generous than the subsidies for the Pioneer Generation.
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 card holders can get a subsidy of up to $10 per visit for common illnesses from Nov 1. Now, they do not enjoy 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.
The online application will be available from September.