Patients with lower back, neck pain to get subsidised acupuncture treatment under pilot programme

All patients will be able to pay for acupuncture services to relieve lower back and neck pain using their Flexi-MediSave scheme. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Patients with lower back and neck pain are now eligible for subsidised acupuncture treatment at public sector specialist outpatient clinics.

This pilot programme will provide referred patients with means-tested subsidies that can cover up to 70 per cent of treatment costs, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Dec 29).

About 2,000 patients per year, or 70 per cent of all who visit public specialist outpatient clinics for pain in the lower back and neck area, are set to benefit under this pilot.

Merdeka Generation and Pioneer Generation seniors will enjoy an additional 25 per cent and 50 per cent off the remaining healthcare bill respectively.

All patients, regardless of their subsidy status, will also be able to pay for acupuncture services to relieve lower back and neck pain using their Flexi-MediSave scheme.

The scheme, introduced by the Health Ministry in 2015, aimed to reduce out-of-pocket costs for older Singaporeans at polyclinics, general practitioner clinics on the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), and public specialist outpatient clinics.

Seniors can begin to benefit from the Flexi-MediSave scheme once they are 60 years of age.

Those who qualify can withdraw up to $200 per year from their own MediSave account or that of their spouse to pay for outpatient treatments.

"The pilot will not cover acupuncture used to treat other pain indications, and other forms of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine currently offered at public healthcare institutions," said MOH.

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