Healthcare in Singapore gets a booster shot
SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Health (MOH) will be introducing a series of initiatives to make healthcare more affordable for Singaporeans.
These changes will be implemented by the first quarter of 2012.
The key changes are as follows:
i) MOH will enhance subsidies to make medications more affordable by offering greater financial assistance on selected high-cost drugs to middle – low income patients.
ii) Private outpatient primary care will be made more affordable and accessible for middle-low income patients, thus enabling these Singaporeans to better manage their chronic diseases early, remain healthy and active and avoid unnecessary complications.
iii) The annual withdrawal limit for Medisave use for outpatient care will be raised so that patients can tap on more Medisave to pay for their bills.
iv) Medifund will also be expanded to include non-residential Intermediate and Long Term Care (ILTC) services, so that elderly Singaporeans can recover and age gracefully in the community.
Making care more affordable by increasing subsidies for high cost standard drugs
MOH will increase the drug subsidy for selected high-cost standard drugs for eligible patients, required for chronic disease management from the current 50 per cent to 75 per cent. The same eligibility framework as the PCPS will apply i.e. patients with per capita monthly household income of $1,500 or less, economically inactive households, and patients with residential Annual Value of $13,000 or less.
These drug subsidies are applicable to eligible patients seeking care in the Restructured Hospitals, National Centres, as well as at the Polyclinics. They will have to show their healthcare benefits card to qualify for the subsidies.
Expansion of the Medication Assistance Fund
In addition, MOH will enhance subsidies under the Medication Assistance Fund (MAF). This fund was set up in 2010, to help patients pay for expensive drugs used for specific medical conditions. The MAF currently covers selected expensive medication, including certain cancer drugs.
However, some patients, especially those with less common diseases or complex conditions, may not respond well to the standard drugs. To financially assist these patients, the MAF will be expanded to cover other non-standard drugs if they are assessed to be clinically necessary and appropriate for the treatment of the patients’ conditions. The hospitals will put in place a framework to assess patients’ need for the drug on a case-by-case basis.
The level of subsidy provided under MAF will also increase from the current 50 per cent to 75 per cent for needy Singaporeans.