2nd Nov 2020
Mr Christopher de Souza
MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
Question No. 182
To ask the Minister for Health whether the Ministry will look into greater subsidies for dementia medication and other types of medication needed by a higher number of seniors and retirees.
1. The Government seeks to ensure affordability and accessibility of drugs that are assessed to be clinically and cost-effective for patients who need them. Such drugs are included in the Standard Drug List (SDL) or Medication Assistance Fund (MAF), and would include medications for dementia, as well as other common conditions that our seniors could be suffering from, such as lipid disorder and hypertension. Eligible patients can receive up to 75% subsidy for these drugs at the Public Healthcare Institutions (PHIs). Pioneers and Merdeka Generation seniors are further entitled to an additional 50% or 25% off their post-subsidy bills for their medications respectively.
2. The Ministry of Health (MOH) regularly reviews the list of subsidised drugs to ensure that it remains updated and relevant to cater to local population needs. 15 drugs for dementia and common chronic conditions were added to the list of subsidised drugs over the last three years. For example, the listing of Donepezil in 2017 (a medication commonly used to treat dementia) on the SDL has reduced the co-payment at PHIs from $12 to $3 per month for patients eligible for subsidies of 75%.
3. For patients who visit GP clinics, they also receive subsidies via the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) which helps defray the cost of treatment and medication, including for 20 chronic diseases, such as dementia. A new CHAS Green card was introduced in November last year while the annual subsidy cap for CHAS Blue and Orange cardholders with complex chronic conditions was also increased from $500 to $520 and $300 to $320 per year respectively. Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation seniors can also receive special subsidies to defray the cost of medical care at CHAS clinics.
4. MOH will continue to review the measures and support for patients regularly, to ensure affordability and accessibility to healthcare services and medications. For those who face difficulties with their medical bill, MediFund is available at our PHIs to support them.