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Implementing Structured, Comprehensive Strategies to Reduce Mental Healthcare Costs in Public and Private Sectors

3rd Nov 2020

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Miss Cheng Li Hui
MP for Tampines GRC

Question No. 249

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether the Mental Wellness Taskforce will look into implementing structured, comprehensive strategies to reduce the costs of mental healthcare in both the public and private sectors; (b) whether there will be a review of the MediShield and MediSave claim limits for mental health conditions; and (c) how is the Ministry working with social welfare organisations to help them cope with increased demand for mental health care support.

Written Answer

1.      The COVID-19 Mental Wellness Taskforce (CoMWT) was set up to look into the psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the population , take stock of the mental health and well-being initiatives that have been introduced across ministries and agencies to address the impact thus far and identify gaps that will need to be addressed to better meet the mental health needs of the population during this time.

2.      Up to $500 of MediSave can be used annually for the outpatient treatment under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP), which includes mental health conditions such as major depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. From 1 Jan 2021, this annual MediSave withdrawal limit will be raised to $700 for patients with complex chronic conditions under the CDMP. Patients aged 60 and above can also tap on Flexi-MediSave of up to $200 a year.

3.      For inpatient psychiatric treatment, there is an ongoing review of MediShield Life, and one of the preliminary recommendations is to increase the psychiatric claim limit from the current $100 per day (up to 35 days per policy year), to $160 per day (up to 60 days per policy year), to better support patients with mental health conditions. Public consultation for the review has just concluded and the MediShield Life Council is reviewing the feedback received.

4.      To cope with the potential increase in demand for mental health services in the community, MOH together with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), continues to work with community partners such as the Social Service Agencies (SSAs) to develop mental health services under the Community Mental Health Masterplan. This includes expanding community mental health services such as the community outreach teams and community intervention teams to support persons with mental health needs in the community. In addition, the MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation (MOHT) has recently launched, an online platform that SSAs and the public can tap on for mental health and well-being resources. There is also a concerted effort by National Council of Social Services (NCSS) and community partners to strengthen community-health nexus and counselling support for persons with mental health needs.

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