SINGAPORE - Some 685,000 Singaporeans received subsidised care from their doctors in private clinics islandwide last year (2016).
Such care, under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), cost the government $169 million in subsidies in 2016, according to latest data from the Ministry of Health.
"97 per cent of Chas and Pioneer Generation cardholders islandwide have access to more than one Chas clinic within a kilometre of their homes. This makes it convenient for them to receive subsidised care near their homes," said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Sunday (May 14) at a Chas family carnival held in Bedok.
The Chas subsidises pioneers and citizens whose per capita monthly household income is $1,800 or less, for treatments at private medical and dental clinics.
Some 1.3 million Singaporeans are eligible for Chas now and there are about 1,650 Chas general practitioner (GP) and dental clinics in Singapore.
Last week, it was reported that three GP clinics-Bedok Day & Night Clinic, Jurong Day & Night Clinic and MW Medical Centre (Cross Street)- are under probe for allegedly making claims for treatments that were not done.
They face suspension from the Chas if the doctors cannot give "satisfactory" explanations for their actions within two weeks. The Health Ministry has suspended two dental clinics, Phoenix Dental Surgery clinics in Ang Mo Kio and Marine Parade, for similar reasons. They are also under police investigation.
For pioneers who get the highest subsidy, Chas pays up to $28.50 when they see a GP for common problems, and as much as $135 for complex chronic ailments.
Between 2013 and 2015, the Health Ministry has received about 300 complaints, largely about incorrect billing or high fees.
To tighten the system, all Chas clinics have to provide patients with itemised bills, even if they do not need to pay a cent, from this year.
"We hope that such improvements will help to make clinic charges and CHAS subsidies clearer to patients and doctors," said Mr Gan.