Thursday, 2 October 2014

50,000 pioneers saw GPs after special subsidies took effect

By Linette Lai, The Straits Times, 1 Oct 2014

ABOUT 50,000 members of the pioneer generation visited general practitioner (GP) clinics in the first three weeks of last month, after special subsidies kicked in.

The number of polyclinic visits also increased by 8 per cent in that time, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a dialogue in Bukit Batok that was also attended by Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor.

Subsidies at GPs and dental clinics took effect on Sept 1 for 450,000 pioneer generation members, or Singaporeans who are 65 or older this year and who became citizens before 1987.

They also get an extra 50 per cent off subsidised services at polyclinics and specialist outpatient clinics. Mr Gan also clarified that all pioneer generation members who previously held Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) cards would have their subsidy caps raised to the level offered under the Pioneer Generation scheme, regardless of income.

However, what they had previously used in subsidies would not be reset to zero with the start of the Pioneer Generation subsidies, but will be reset only next year.

Dr Muhammad Iqmal Abdullah said those with many chronic conditions could exhaust their subsidies before year end, even with the raised subsidy cap. "The problem comes when you have three or more problems - for example, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol," said the GP.

But Mr Gan stressed yesterday that such patients would still get help if needed. "Those who have used up their subsidies and still need help for their medical expenses can always apply for financial assistance at our polyclinics.

"They don't have to worry, even if their subsidies have been used up at GPs," he said.

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