Qualifying age for Primary Care Partnership Scheme lowered to 40
by Tan Weizhen 04:46 AM Aug 15, 2011
SINGAPORE – To help needy Singaporeans cope with outpatient medical costs, the Primary Care Partnership Scheme (PCPS) will be expanded to include more patients. At the same time, the Government will increase subsidies to low income patients for prescription drugs and expand the list of drugs that will be subsidised.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday at the National Day Rally that the qualifying age for the PCPS will be lowered from 65 to 40. Its income ceiling will also be raised. More details will be announced by the Ministry of Health at a later date.
Under the PCPS, needy elderly patients and those on the public assistance scheme can receive subsidised outpatient care through their neighbourhood GPs or dental clinics. There are currently about 32,100 PCPS card holders.
During his English and Mandarin speeches yesterday, Mr Lee underlined the Government’s focus on the country’s ageing population. Mr Lee noted that, in time to come, elderly citizens with chronic ailments or those who require long-term care – such as patients with dementia – can become a heavy burden to their families.
While the 3M (Medisave, MediShield and Medifund) framework has worked well for inpatient care, Mr Lee said Singapore “can do better” in outpatient care.
Explaining why the qualifying age for PCPS was lowered, Mr Lee said: “Because when you have high blood pressure or cholesterol or diabetes, by the age of 40, it’s beginning to show up, particularly if you haven’t looked after yourself.”
Mr Lee also drew attention to patients – young and old – with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Said Mr Lee: “The pills can be expensive, particularly over a long period of time. The low income patients sometimes … may skip an appointment because they fear they can’t afford the pills.”
Mr Edward Leong, 55, welcomed the Government’s moves. Mr Leong, who has hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and kidney problems, spends about S$1,000 a month on medication as well as dialysis.
He said that his medical bills are due to go up once his daughter starts working, as the provider charges him according to the household’s financial ability. Mr Leong, who is also partially blind, added that he had been worried about his situation prior to yesterday’s announcements.
Mr Lee reiterated in his Mandarin speech that the Government will increase capacity and support for nursing homes.
He acknowledged that Asian families tend not to send their parents to nursing homes. However, quoting a New York Times article, he said that in recent years, old folks’ homes are sprouting up in many cities in China.
The Prime Minister noted that such a trend indicates an ageing population as well as changing traditional values. Singapore may face the same challenges, said Mr Lee. But he stressed that the issue must be handled carefully in order to avoid a situation where families “dump” their parents in hospitals or nursing homes.
Source : TODAYonline – MediaCorp Press Ltd’s copyright