SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said seniors and Singaporeans from lower- and middle-income families will get more access to affordable healthcare.
520,000 Singaporeans now benefit from the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS).
Of these, some 140,000 automatically qualified for CHAS after recent enhancements to the scheme.
Previously, a person over 40 qualified for CHAS based on his or her family's household monthly income per person.
As of January, the minimum qualifying age of 40 was removed, allowing younger family members in the same household to qualify automatically.
In previous changes to CHAS in 2013, the Health Ministry raised the household monthly income per person to S$1,800, from S$1,500.
The CHAS scheme provides households in the lower- and middle-income levels access to medical and dental care subsidies at participating general practitioner (GP) and dental clinics near their homes.
Mr Tharman said close to half of the GP and dental clinics islandwide are now on board the scheme. That is about 600 GP clinics and 370 dental clinics.
Mr Tharman was speaking at a family carnival and Lunar New Year celebrations attended by some 2,500 residents in his Taman Jurong constituency on Sunday. He handed out hongbaos to some seniors, and presented 27 families with their CHAS cards.
Nur Shahidah Shah Pari and her family were some of the CHAS card recipients. Ms Nur Shahidah suffers from neuroblastoma. Also, her mother had a fall recently and required knee replacement surgery.
Ms Nur Shahidah said: "If it can be used for GPs, for the older people it surely benefits especially if the GP is nearer (than the polyclinic). For polyclinics, the waiting time may not be something that is favourable to the older generation so GPs would be the ideal solution for that.” - CNA/fa/xq
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