Koh Poh Koon asks for clarification from He Ting Ru on patient's medication bills

Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon and Workers' Party MP He Ting Ru in Parliament on April 4, 2022. PHOTOS: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon sought clarification from Workers' Party MP He Ting Ru (Sengkang GRC) on Monday (April 4) over a statement she had made during February's Budget debate.

At the time, Ms He had made reference to seniors who asked doctors to reduce the dosages of prescribed medicines, as they could not afford the full amount.

"What does it say about us as a society?" she had asked.

Ms He had left Parliament after the speech on Feb 28, and subsequently missed the debates on each ministry's budget as she contracted Covid-19.

Responding to Mr Koh on Monday, Ms He said she had first met the resident during a Meet-the-People session.

The man had told her he was prescribed various medications for his chronic conditions, but had to pay out-of-pocket for them despite tapping MediSave and various subsidies.

He had also said that he had previously asked for medications to be removed from his prescription, as he could not afford them.

Ms He said she had written to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) for assistance on this issue.

"This case is a specific example of a resident who made a request to cut back on medications as he believed he could not afford it - perhaps due to a lack of awareness of the help available, or else a lack of confidence in making the necessary applications and appeals," she said.

Dr Koh responded that the CPF may not have been the most appropriate agency to refer the man to.

He also pointed out that the MediSave scheme was modified last year to allow people with complex chronic conditions to use more of their funds to pay for treatment.

Nine in 10 patients who used MediSave last year to treat chronic conditions covered by the Chronic Disease Management Programme did not hit this limit, he said.

"This particular resident may well have fallen out of the scheme, or it could be one where the medications are more unique and special," he said, adding that medical bills are already heavily subsidised for seniors.

He asked Ms He to send him the patient's details. "I think that we will try all our means to help this patient get access to the care that he or she needs."

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