Updated: 03/13/2014 02:32

More flexibility will be given to the use of Medisave

More flexibility will be given to the use of Medisave

More flexibility will be given to the use of Medisave as part of major shifts in the approach to healthcare financing in Singapore. 

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced this in the Committee of Supply Debate. 

Mr Gan says Singaporeans will be able to use Medisave for non-cancer related medical scans starting first quarter of next year. 

This is aimed at reducing "out-of-pocket" costs for scans. 

"Many Singaporeans have given feedback that scans needed for other illnesses can also be costly. We will allow Medisave use of up to $300 a year to cover non-cancer related scans that are deemed necessary for diagnosis and treatment. With this, scans will be significantly more afforable." 

The "30 dollar deductible" for chronic disease treatment will also be removed starting July this year. 

This means that patients no longer need to pay the first $30 of each bill in cash, and can tap on Medisave from the first dollar. 

There's also a new "Flexi-Medisave" scheme to help the elderly. 

Those aged 65 and above will be allowed to use up to $200 of their Medisave balance for outpatient medical treatments at all Specialist Outpatient Clinics or SOCs, polyclinics and General Practitioners under CHAS or the Community Health Assist Scheme. 

Mr Gan says his ministry plans to have this ready by the first half of next year. 

"Many elderly Singaporeans who need outpatient care have shared with me their worries over depleting their cash savings and burdening their children financially. Many of them want to be self-reliant, and have asked to tap on their Medisave more easily. And we hear you. While we remain concerned about depletion of Medisave balance, we can consider more flexibility especially for the older Singaporeans." 

Mr Gan also says that the Government will be increasing its share of the National Healthcare Expenditure. 

It'll first enhance subsidies for services in the SOCs at public hospitals starting this September. 

Lower-income subsidised patients will enjoy a higher 70 per cent subsidy while the middle-income will enjoy a 60 per cent subsidy. 

Subsidies for drugs will also be enhanced. 

From next year, all lower to middle income patients will benefit from a 75 per cent subsidy for all standard drugs, so they pay less for their medication. 

Subsidies will also be extended to more drugs, with another 13 drugs added to standard drug list. 

Beyond enhancing subsides and Medisave, the government says collective responsibility for healthcare must also be stepped up. 

-By Lee Gim Siong

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