Correspondent's take

Merdeka package more generous than expected

The Merdeka Generation (MG) Package for Singaporeans born in the 1950s has turned out to be more generous than anticipated.

All seniors from this generation will get a $100 top-up to their PAssion Silver cards as well as an additional $1,500 if they opt in to CareShield Life when it is open to them from 2021.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said that the MG Package would be less generous than the Pioneer Generation (PG) Package.

This is only fair as the PG was around in the early days of nationhood and would have lower savings than the younger MG, and, hence, requires more help.

The MG is getting somewhat similar benefits but at a lower rate. The MG card provides subsidies at Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) clinics that sit somewhere between what the PG gets and what a blue Chas card gives.

The MG gets an additional 25 per cent off medicine and services at public clinics.

The MG will also get top-ups of $200 a year in the Medisave accounts, but only for five years. This is fair as the MG will live longer and hence collect benefits for many more years than the PG.

Those in the MG will also get 5 per cent to 10 per cent subsidies for their MediShield Life premiums. Again, much lower than that for the PG, but those in the MG would have more in their Medisave to pay for this. All in the MG will get these benefits, with those who get means-tested help continuing to receive it.

 
 
 

What they will not be getting, though, is the $100 a month for life should they become disabled.

That is because those in the MG, unlike those in the PG, were young enough to join ElderShield when it was launched. Instead, they are being offered an additional $1,500 to encourage them to switch from ElderShield to CareShield Life.

This came as a very pleasant surprise as those in the MG already get the "participation" bonus of $2,500 announced earlier.

Now those who join CareShield Life, which pays $600 a month for life should they become disabled, will get a total of $4,000 off the premiums they will have to pay over a 10-year period.

Being part of the MG, this could tilt the scales in deciding whether I opt in for CareShield Life.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2019, with the headline 'Merdeka package more generous than expected'. Print Edition | Subscribe