MOH Group Director: No Singaporean will be denied medical care if they can’t pay

A member of the public Tan Keong Boon wrote to ST Forum on Tue (10 Dec) asking why Merdeka Generation member cannot enjoy subsidy when referred by a private general practitioner (GP) to a specialist at a government hospital (‘Healthcare cost: Help those who have lost co-pay option‘).

“I was disappointed to learn that patients do not enjoy this subsidy if referred by a private general practitioner to a specialist in a government restructured hospital. I understand that only patients referred by polyclinics can enjoy this subsidy,” Mr Tan said.

“Most people who are employed can visit their company’s panel of GPs, with the employer co-paying for each visit. However, they still need to follow up with the same specialists even after retirement, and without co-payment.”

Mr Tan asked if the subsidy can also be extended to those referred by private GPs.

Group Director Chan Beng Seng from the Ministry of Health replied on ST Forum today (‘Pioneer, Merdeka seniors referred to public specialists by Chas clinics do get subsidies‘, 13 Dec).

Chan said that Pioneer Generation (PG) and Merdeka Generation (MG) seniors are eligible for subsidies when they are referred to public specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs) not only by polyclinics but also by Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) general practitioner clinics.

In other words, only patients of CHAS-approved private GPs are entitled to subsidies when referred to government specialists by them. This is in addition to referrals from government-run polyclinics.

“Subsidised patients at the SOCs can receive up to 75 per cent subsidies for outpatient care. PG and MG seniors also enjoy additional subsidies for subsidised services and medications,” Chan said.

“PG and MG seniors who are already private patients at the public hospitals’ SOCs can approach the SOC staff to apply to switch to become subsidised patients if they wish to enjoy the additional PG and MG subsidies.”

He also said, “The quality of care provided to subsidised patients, who are assigned doctors, is no different from that for private patients.” In other words, every doctor is a good doctor in public hospitals’ SOCs.

Chan added that MOH will continue to ensure that healthcare remains affordable for Singaporeans.

For patients facing financial difficulties with their medical bills even after subsidies, MediShield Life and Medisave, Chan pointed out that they may approach medical social workers for help.

“No Singaporean will be denied appropriate medical care due to an inability to pay,” he said.

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