MOH may look at raising Medisave cap for elderly outpatient treatment
The Ministry of Health (MOH) may look into whether it can raise the amount of Medisave money that older people are allowed to use for outpatient treatments.
One possibility is to peg the withdrawal limit to how much people have in their accounts, as suggested by Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) in Parliament yesterday.
Currently, people aged 60 years and older may withdraw an additional $200 a year - on top of the $500 from Medisave that everyone can use - to pay for their outpatient treatments at hospitals, polyclinics and Community Health Assist Scheme clinics.
This money can be used to pay for chronic disease care, vaccinations and health screenings - or primarily for preventive care and health maintenance.
Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) had asked if the current limit of the flexi-Medisave scheme, which lets older people use an extra $200 a year, could be raised for members who require frequent outpatient treatments.
Mr Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for Health, said last year 136,000, or 16 per cent of eligible Singaporeans, used the full $700 annual limit.
This means that more than eight in 10 people do not max out the amounts they can withdraw, he said, which indicates the current limits are about correct.
But Mr Saktiandi said several of his older residents have said they would appreciate being able to use more of their Medisave to pay for their outpatient medical needs.
Mr Tong said he recognises there are people who rely on Medisave for their healthcare needs but pointed out that the scheme has to be sustainable over the long term.
He said the Merdeka Generation Package, which just kicked in this month, also gives people born between 1950 and 1959 higher subsidies, thus reducing the amount they need to pay.
He added that such schemes are reviewed regularly.
He pointed out that the age for people who can use the flexi-Medisave scheme was lowered from 65 to 60, and the basic withdrawal amount was raised from $400 to $500 a year, last year.
This was when Mr Pritam suggested that higher withdrawals be allowed for seniors who have sufficient balance, for example, at least $40,000 to $50,000, in their Medisave accounts.
Mr Tong said it might be a challenge to have differentiated ceilings for people. He said, however, it was a good suggestion and will be one of the factors the ministry will consider when reviewing the scheme.