Friday, December 30, 2011

MORE SINGAPOREANS ELIGIBLE FOR SUBSIDIZED PRIMARY HEALTHCARE

Dr Khor explaining to one of her constituents in 
Bukit Batok. (Straits Times photo)
Welcome news for those aged 40 and above from households earning S$1500 and less per head. Previously only those aged 65 and above and with a per capita monthly household income of S$800 or less were eligible for the Primary Care Partnership Scheme (PCPS). The changes to the criteria eligibility will take effect from 15 January 2012.


The Minister of State of Health Dr Amy Khor told the Straits Times yesterday there are currently 440 GP clinics and 210 dental clinics participating in the PCPS. More are expected to come on board with the rise in the number of eligible applicants.


A patient consulting a GP. (ChannelNewsAsia photo)
The scope of the PCPS has also been expanded to cover more chronic illnesses, such as dementia and bipolar disorder, in addition to diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, lipid disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, schizophrenia and depression. 


The scheme, launched in 2000, now has 37,000 registered patients with an average of 2000 applicants a month. Application forms are obtainable from hospitals, polyclinics and community centres.


On a related note, ChannelNewsAsia reports that Singapore has also begun mass health screening for Singaporeans and PRs aged 60 and older. The patients' health records plus the screening results will be compiled into a database. This will enable the government to formulate more effective prevention programmes for the elderly in such areas as vision, hearing, oral health, continence, mood and physical function. The screening costs S$30, but the government will subsidize S$25. Drugs and medication, however, will not be subsidized.


Mass health screening for the elderly. (TODAY photo)
The elderly will benefit from the health screening as early symptoms of age-related health problems can be detected through the screenings. Another plus point is immediate care and consultation will be given instead of post-screening referrals and follow-up. 

Despite the positive response to the PCPS, there are calls for the scheme to be open to all Singaporeans and not just to those aged 40 and above. As for the mass health screening, paying only S$5 out of pocket can still be costly for many elderly who have little or no financial resources. Why not make it free for them?

Yes, why not? Singapore is certainly rich enough to be more generous to the elderly and to those who cannot afford medical care.

(This article is based on reports from Straits Times and ChannelNewsAsia.)

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