SINGAPORE - The total amount disbursed through the Medical Endowment Fund or Medifund rose by nearly $6 million last year as more people applied for help with their medical bills, the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed on Thursday (Nov 29).
In total, $149.8 million was disbursed in the 2017 financial year (FY2017), up 4.1 per cent from $143.9 million the previous year.
This came in tandem with a 3.8 per cent rise in the number of approved applicants to 1,179,525. In FY2016, the figure was 1,136,413.
An average of $953 was paid out per inpatient treatment and $85 per outpatient treatment.
The increase was mostly due to a rise in payouts for patients in intermediate and long-term care facilities, including both non-residential facilities such as day rehabilitation centres and residential facilities such as nursing homes.
Payouts for care in these facilities rose by about $4.7 million, a 19 per cent increase from $25.1 million to $29.8 million.
The MOH said that this reflected a rise in the number of facilities and attendance as it stepped up efforts to provide patients with greater access to community care.
Greater access to community care facilities may have contributed to more patients seeking treatment. The majority of the funds continued to be disbursed to patients for care in public healthcare institutions, with the total amount increasing by $1 million, from $118.9 million to $119.9 million.
Additional money is injected into Medifund when the budget permits in order to strengthen it as a safety net, the MOH said. The total capital sum rose to $4.5 billion in FY2017 after $500 million was injected, the MOH added.