Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Community Health Assist Scheme crosses half a million mark

140,000 more covered under subsidy scheme after Govt lifts age restrictions
By Linette Lai, The Straits Times, 20 Jan 2014

ABOUT 140,000 people have automatically come on board the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) since the start of the year, after age restrictions on the scheme were lifted.

This brings the total number of CHAS beneficiaries to more than 520,000.

These figures were given by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a community event in Jurong yesterday, where he gave out CHAS cards to families who had qualified under the expanded criteria.

This year's new beneficiaries are family members of those who were already covered under CHAS before the age floor was removed. They did not have to apply for the card, but began automatically receiving it from last month.

Previously, only those aged 40 and above could qualify for subsidised medical and dental care under the scheme.

Last year, CHAS beneficiaries received more than $25 million in health-care subsidies.

"I'm happy to share also that there are now over 600 GP (general practitioner) clinics and 370 dental clinics on CHAS islandwide - this is close to half of all GP and dental clinics in Singapore," Mr Tharman said.

"Many patients have found (CHAS) a good alternative to going to the polyclinic, because it is convenient and near the home."

He added that the Government is looking into how CHAS can be expanded to cover a wider range of conditions and treatments.

The CHAS scheme started in January 2012, and attracted about 300,000 sign-ups by last June.

In August, The Straits Times reported that 870 GP and dental clinics were participating in the scheme, about 40 per cent of the total number of such clinics here.

Some who had not signed up said they were deterred by the claim process, which requires them to fill up an online form.

With the changes that took place this month, all family members in households with a monthly per capita income of $1,800 or lower are eligible for CHAS.

Cardholders can receive subsidies at participating GP and dental clinics for common and chronic illnesses. These include flu and fever as well as stroke, asthma and conditions like anxiety.

Addressing elderly Jurong residents at yesterday's event, Mr Tharman also said they would get "more help and support" for their health-care needs, with the expansion of public hospitals and other health-care services in the area.

"From the hospitals to community care and to home care, you will get more care, and care you can afford."

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