Medisave funds for two more illnesses
By Sarah Chang
FROM tomorrow, sufferers of dementia and bipolar disorder will be able to tap into their Medisave funds to cover the costs of outpatient treatment.
Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said yesterday that the extension of the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP) will "help the reduction of out-of-pocket expenses" and make treatment more affordable for Singaporeans who live with such conditions.
Dr Khor said: "It will go a long way in helping the low- and middle-income in seeking treatment for these chronic illnesses, either for themselves or for their loved ones with the conditions."
She was speaking to reporters at an arts event held at the Institute of Technical Education's College West in Choa Chu Kang.
Dr Khor said that the authorities decided to extend the use of Medisave to dementia sufferers in view of Singapore's ageing population.
Dementia, which typically affects those aged 65 and above, is estimated to affect 25,000 people here.
The CDMP was launched in 2006 to allow Medisave funds to be used in the treatment of diabetes, hypertension, lipid disorders and stroke. Over the past three years, more chronic illnesses, such as major depression and schizophrenia, were added to the list. The inclusion of bipolar disorder and dementia brings the number of diseases covered under the programme to a total of 10.
In addition, the amount of Medisave that can be used for treatment of chronic illnesses will be increased from $300 to $400 per Medisave account per year with effect from Jan 1 next year.
But Dr Khor said that reviews will be made constantly to ensure that any changes made will be "sustainable".
She added that the changes made should not "unnecessarily burden the future generations with unsustainable health-care costs".
There must also be a balance in the use of the Medisave fund, so that it will not be depleted prematurely or too quickly, especially in times of need, said Dr Khor.
Cleaner Tham Pong Meng, 72, does not suffer from any of the newly added diseases but he believes that the inclusion under Medisave will safeguard his future. He said: "On my part, I must continue working to keep my brain active and alert. But what the Government can do is to help make treatment for dementia affordable. I am glad they have taken this step."
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