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Budget 2019: Chas to be enhanced, outcomes to be tracked

SINGAPORE — Seven years after the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) started, the Government will look at tracking the outcomes of patients who receive subsidies on their visits to participating private general practitioners and dentists.

The Government will set aside S$3.1 billion this year to go into a new Long-Term Care Support Fund.

The Government will set aside S$3.1 billion this year to go into a new Long-Term Care Support Fund.

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SINGAPORE — Seven years after the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) started, the Government will look at tracking the outcomes of patients who receive subsidies on their visits to participating private general practitioners and dentists.

As he announced enhancements to Chas, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday (Feb 18) that measures must be put in place to ensure participating clinics are delivering good outcomes.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) will look at ways to help Chas clinics better track their patients’ progress, said Mr Heng in his Budget 2019 speech.

It will also review its clinical guidelines for Chas dental clinics, to ensure appropriate care is delivered.

About 1.3 million lower- to middle-income Singaporeans and about 1,000 private general practitioners and 700 dental clinics are part of Chas.

In 2017, some 650,000 Singaporeans received about S$154 million in Chas subsidies.

Last October, the authorities suspended 10 Chas clinics under Access Medical group for “severe non-compliance” and referred the case to the police.

In July 2016, two dental clinics were suspended from Chas for making false claims and flouting guidelines.

WHAT ARE THE ENHANCEMENTS TO CHAS?

  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at last year’s National Day Rally that Chas will cover all Singaporeans — regardless of income — for chronic conditions such as diabetes and osteoarthritis.

  • Holders of the orange Chas card will receive subsidies when they see a participating general practitioner for common illnesses such as cough, cold, headache and diarrhoea.

  • Chas subsidies will increase for complex chronic conditions, which refer to visits for multiple chronic conditions, or a single condition with complications. Orange Chas card holders currently receive subsidies of up to S$75 per visit (capped at S$300 per year), while blue Chas card holders currently receive subsidies of up to S$120 per visit (capped at S$480 per year). Chas card holders in the Pioneer Generation are subsidised up to S$135 per visit (capped at $540 per year).

Mr Heng said the Government expects to pay out more than S$200 million a year in Chas subsidies with these enhancements. Further details will be given by the MOH during the Budget debate next month.

NEW FUND TO PROVIDE SUBSIDIES FOR LONG-TERM CARE

The Government will set aside S$3.1 billion this year to go into a new Long-Term Care Support Fund.

The fund will also take in S$2 billion that was earmarked last year for premium subsidies and other support.

The new fund will be used to pay for CareShield Life subsidies and other support measures such as ElderFund, to be launched next year to help severely disabled and lower-income Singaporeans who need extra financial help for long-term care.

“The cost of long-term care is not only high, but will also increase as our population ages,” said Mr Heng.

CareShield Life is the insurance scheme which will replace ElderShield from 2020. It will provide cash payouts to policyholders who are severely disabled.

FOR OLDER SINGAPOREANS NOT ON MERDEKA OR PIONEER GENERATION PACKAGE

For Singaporeans who are aged 50 and above this year who are not on the Merdeka or Pioneer Generation packages, the Government will top up their Medisave accounts with S$100 per year for the next five years.

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