Friday, 11 April 2014

Medisave, subsidies available for recommended screenings

In “Allow Medisave use for yearly blood tests, too” (March 14), Mr James Chi proposed the use of Medisave to pay for blood tests. We agree that appropriate screening tests are key to early disease detection and prevention. Hence, we encourage Singaporeans to opt for those that are necessary and effective.

Mr Chi suggested yearly comprehensive blood tests covering kidney function, lipid profile, cancer markers and a range of other indicators.

Except for screening for high blood cholesterol, such tests are not recommended for everyone, as there is no evidence of their effectiveness in detecting chronic diseases.

However, there are tests everyone in the appropriate age group is recommended to go for yearly or regularly. These are for common chronic conditions and some cancers for which screening has been shown to be effective. The tests are subsidised via the Health Promotion Board’s Integrated Screening Programme.

For example, free blood tests to screen for diabetes and high cholesterol, and faecal immunochemical tests to screen for colorectal cancer are available to lower- and middle-income Singaporeans on the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). Consultations are subsidised at S$18.50 per visit at CHAS clinics, for up to twice a year. Medisave can be used for costlier tests such as colonoscopies for colorectal cancer screening and mammograms for breast cancer screening.

The subsidies and Medisave help to reduce out-of-pocket payments. We hope that more Singaporeans utilise these schemes for better detection and prevention.

Bey Mui Leng (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications
Ministry of Health
VOICES, TODAY, 9 Apr 2014

Allow Medisave use for yearly blood tests, too

Although the move to extend the use of Medisave is a welcome one, I believe that it should also include at least one comprehensive blood test a year. (“Medisave use, drug subsidies to be enhanced”; March 13)

Such blood tests usually cost between S$180 and S$300, and it would be apt to allow the use of Medisave for them. Done annually, it would be an important preventive measure every person should take, regardless of age.

With each blood test covering kidney function, lipid profile, cancer markers and a range of other indicators, this would allow people to detect anomalies at an early stage and take early action. Prevention is better than cure.

James Chi
VOICES, TODAY, 14 Mar 2014

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