Basics of new healthcare initiatives

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Here is the A-Z of Budget 2014’s new healthcare initiatives – other than those covered in the Pioneer Package. What does it all mean to the common person? The Independent Singapore has summarised the basic facts for you in six points:

1. No initial payment for chronic patients (effective from July 2014)
Donít have to pay the initial $30 for outpatient treatment in cash before a chronic disease patient can use their Medisave.

As of January 2014, Osteoarthritis, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Anxiety, Parkinsonís disease and Nephrosis/Nephritis were added to the list of chronic diseases covered under Medisave. Previously, patients would have to pay $30 (any amount under $30 would have to be paid in cash) as well as 15 per cent of the balance of the bill. Medisave, since 2012, allows a maximum withdrawal for chronic diseases under the Chronic Disease outpatient treatment, with  a cap at $400 per account, per year.

2. Flexi-Medisave scheme for the elderly (effective from 2015)
Seniors above 65 would be able to use $200 annually from their Medisave account for outpatient treatment – in public hospitals, polyclinics and private clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). This would include a cold or a cough.

Currently these are some of the Medisave withdrawal caps for outpatient treatment:
– Vaccination- $400 per year, per account
– Assisted conception procedure – $15, 000 per patient
– Renal dialysis treatment –  $450 per month
– Scans for cancer patients – $600 per year
– Outpatient Intravenous Antibiotic Treatment- $600 per week; $2,400 a year
However a patient who is hospitalised will not be eligible to claim under any outpatient treatment withdrawal limit. Medisave can also be withdrawn to pay the medical bills of the immediate family.

3. Non-cancer scans covered (effective from 2015)
$300 worth of non-cancer-related scans necessary for diagnosis and treatment will be allowed per year.

Currently only scans for cancer patients are covered under Medisave.

Based on the charges quoted by Singapore General Hospital, an X-ray costs between $15-$300, a CT Scan cost between $300-$1,300 and an ultrasound cost between $50-$500.

4. Top-up for lower-and-middle-income families (pending)
Families with per capita household income below $1,100 get a 70 per cent subsidy off outpatient services at Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOCs). While families with per capita household income from $1,101 to $1,800 get a 60 per cent subsidy, families with no income will have their subsidies calculated based on the annual value of their homes.

A cost of consultation at SOC is about $32. Current subsidies for all groups below $1,800 household income are 50 per cent.

5. Cheaper standard drugs (effective from 2015)
Lower-to-middle-income families will benefit from a 75 per cent subsidy for all standard drugs. 13 additional drugs will also be subsidised come April 2014. The current standard drugs list covers 90 per cent of total medical prescriptions.

Prices of subsidised drugs can be found here.

6. MediShield Life premiums reduced (Effective from 2015)
Premiums for nuclear family with two school-going children will not take up more than half of their annual Medisave contributions.

Singaporeans aged 55 to 64 years old with a median income or less will have no increase in premiums after permanent subsidies and Medisave top-ups. Subsidies start from 40 per cent for 65-year-olds to 60 per cent for 90-year-olds. Currently MediShiled annual premium for seniors above 65 is $540 and premium for seniors above 80 range from $1,150 to $1,190.

As of now premiums for MediShield for two working parents and two school children are around $540. MediShield only covers hospitalisation expenses and approved outpatient treatments.