MediShield Life: Automatically on “household per capita income”?

By SY Lee and Leong Sze Hian / Image from Ministry of Health

We refer to the article “Permanent subsidies for MediShield Life will be given automatically” (Today, Jun 9).

Subsidies “automatically” eligible?

It states that Dr Amy Khor,  Senior Minister of State (Health) said that the permanent subsidies for lower- and middle-income Singaporeans needing help with their MediShield Life premiums will be given out automatically as far as possible.  She also reiterated the Government’s pledge to keep premiums affordable for all.

“Household per capital income” is “hassle-free”?

Dr Khor said that one’s household income per capita will be the determining factor for the permanent subsidies so as to make the process as hassle-free as possible. But she added that other factors could be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“Household per income income’s” failings in the past?

Using “one’s household income per capita” as the eligibility criteria has arguably, been a disaster for existing “help” schemes like the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas).

700,000 eligible but only 400,000 have applied?

For example, when the Chas was launched a few years ago, I believe it was announced that about 700,000 Singaporeans were eligible.

So, why is it that as of end 2013 – only more than 400,000 have gotten the Chas card?

Also, since the income eligibility criteria was subsequently increased – even prior to the age eligibility removal effective 1 January 2014 – shouldn’t the number eligible be much more than the 700,000 projected originally?

Catch-22?

Of course, the other possibility may be that the Government may be able to identify those eligible automatically on the basis of household per capita income.

However, if this is the case – then, it may have a lot of answering to do, as to why schemes like the Chas which uses  ”household per capita income” failed to identify the majority of those who qualify?