The total amount disbursed through the Medical Endowment Fund (Medifund) rose by nearly $6 million last year as more people applied for help with their medical bills, the Ministry of Health (MOH) revealed yesterday.
In total, $149.8 million was disbursed in the 2017 financial year (FY2017), up 4.1 per cent from $143.9 million in 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.
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.
Greater access to community care facilities may have contributed to more patients seeking treatment. The MOH said the rising number of applications reflected a rise in the number of facilities and attendance as it stepped up efforts to cater to patients' needs.
Payouts for care in these facilities rose by some $4.7 million - or 19 per cent - from $25.1 million to $29.8 million.
An average of $953 was paid out for each inpatient treatment and $85 for each outpatient 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, said the MOH. The total capital sum rose to $4.5 billion in FY2017 after $500 million was injected, it said.