We thank Ms Madeline Lim for her letter and her support for better targeting of subsidies for those who need it most (More accurate means testing for govt subsidies needed, March 12).
The Ministry of Health has adopted the use of per capita household income (PCHI) as the means-testing basis as it takes into account the overall financial resources of the household against the number of household members supported by that income.
For inpatient care, the elderly living in households with PCHI of $1,800 and below will continue to receive maximum subsidies regardless of living arrangement. This ensures that those with the greatest need receive the support they need.
For retired seniors who fall into a higher income tier as a result of living with their children, the PCHI framework recognises that they do have access to support from family members in the same household.
At the same time, other members of their household could find that they receive higher subsidies as a result, as they are supporting their dependants.
We acknowledge that while PCHI is a useful basis for means testing, it is not perfect. Where the framework is unable to fully factor in a family’s circumstances, a patient may approach the hospital staff for assistance and his situation will be assessed based on all relevant factors.
Ms Lim also suggested allowing general practitioners (GPs) to make referrals to subsidised specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs) at public hospitals. Currently, Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) GP clinics may refer patients whose visits are eligible for CHAS subsidy to subsidised SOCs. This applies to Pioneer Generation, Merdeka Generation and public assistance card holders as well.
CHAS GPs are able to provide holistic care to their patients, and we encourage each Singaporean to have a regular family doctor who can be his partner in health.
Chan Beng Seng
Ministry of Health