Saturday, 1 November 2014

More than 100,000 have used their Pioneer Generation card to see GPs, dentists

24,000 visit the dentist, armed with Pioneer card
Thanks to subsidy, many who have not had a teeth check in years are doing it
By Salma Khalik Senior Health Correspondent, The Straits Times, 31 Oct 2014

MANY seniors who have not seen a dentist in a long time are getting their teeth checked and fixed, now that they have the Pioneer Generation (PG) card which gives them a subsidy of up to $266.50.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, said last night that 24,000 people have used their cards for dental care since the subsidies kicked in last month.

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

Dentist Anthony Tay, who has a clinic in Geylang, has seen close to 30 patients with PG cards. "Two in three have not seen a dentist in many years," he said, adding that they had problems ranging from gum disease to cavities and missing teeth.

A few needed a complete set of dentures for either the upper or lower jaw. This costs $550, but with the subsidy, they paid slightly more than half the price, Dr Tay noted. And those who needed dentures for only two teeth paid $142, with the Government picking up $108 of the bill.

Dr Khor added that 85,000 people have used the PG card to see a general practitioner as they can get a subsidy of $28.50 to $135, depending on their ailment. The subsidy is capped at $540 per year for those with complex chronic conditions.

She was speaking to the media before the 15th dialogue session for 200 grassroots leaders, organised by the Ministry of Health and People's Association, which she said had helped to identify brewing issues and clarify them where necessary.

One such issue was confusion among pioneers who hold a Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) card, which entitles them to similar help at GP clinics. Those who have reached the limit of their Blue CHAS card, which gives them subsidies of up to $480 a year, will get only the balance - $60 more - in PG subsidies for the rest of the year, Dr Khor explained.

She said PG card holders who also have CHAS get higher subsidies in hospitals and polyclinics, so they should keep renewing their cards every two years.

Another area of confusion was the MediShield Life health insurance scheme, which will be compulsory for all Singaporeans and permanent residents when it kicks in next year.

Some people with Integrated Plans which incorporate MediShield Life are asking if they should give up these plans, which cover them for treatment as private patients. Dr Khor said that they would not be disadvantaged.

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