Most people will agree that getting ill is expensive. The cost of consultations, medicine and in some cases, hospitalisation, can certainly add up.
According to Mercer Marsh Benefits’ 2019 Medical Trends Around the World report, Singapore’s medical cost inflation is expected to be 10 per cent this year – a similar rate to 2018. For example, treatment for cancer, the number one cause of death in Singapore, ranges from $100,000 to $200,00 per year for a patient in the advanced stages of the illness. This amount is likely to increase as inflation sets in.
But while this figure sounds scary, there is no need to panic and worry about the future. What many people do not realise is that Singapore actually has a comprehensive support infrastructure for healthcare. At the 2018 National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, “We want all Singaporeans to have access to affordable, high quality healthcare. No one should be denied medical care because they cannot afford it.”
What is lesser known is that there are various subsidies and discounts available to the general public. The most common ones are MediSave and MediShield Life, but there are more! Here are the other healthcare schemes and subsidies available in Singapore that you can tap into.
In general, your healthcare costs will increase as you get older. The Ministry of Health estimates that 1 in 2 Singaporeans who are healthy at the age of 65, will eventually develop a long-term disability which will require significant spending on caregiving. Enter ElderShield, a severe disability insurance scheme. All Singaporeans and PRs who have a MediSave account are automatically enrolled at the age of 40. You can pay for the annual premiums from age 40 to 65 with MediSave. After that, you are insured for the rest of your life.
What ElderShield does is to provide a monthly cash payout of $300-$400 (depending on the year you joined the programme) in the event of a severe disability. This is defined as when a person cannot perform three out of six Activities of Daily Living (ADL) on their own. These activities are bathing, dressing, feeding, going to the toilet, moving around and transferring.
To qualify for ElderShield payouts, you will have to be certified by a medical professional. We understand it can be challenging for a patient who cannot perform the various ADLs to visit a clinic to be assessed. Hence, our Speedoc doctors, who are appointed assessors, can conduct a housecall to certify a patient. Our prices are the consultation fees + $30 for the ElderShield form filling, which can be reimbursed by the insurer after the claim has been approved.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that house calls are too expensive for the average household. However, in cases where at-home care is necessary, such as when home-bound elderly with certain conditions or disabilities require long term medical monitoring, significant aid is available.
In partnership with Active Global Home & Community Care, Speedoc is committed to offering patients long-term subsidised medical care to offer personalised attention in an affordable and accessible manner. Our services include comprehensive care assessment, management of chronic conditions as well as minor medical procedures.
Reduced rates are offered based on household means testing and the fees for home visits range from $1.10 to $123.45 per visit at the maximum subsidy available.
Managing chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, dementia and osteoporosis require long-term healthcare involving multiple consultations with doctors. Understandably, these can be a drain on one’s finances.
Some help is at hand. If you are diagnosed with any of the 20 conditions under the Chronic Disease Management Programme, you may apply for the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). All Singaporeans, regardless of income, are eligible for this scheme, which provides subsidies at participating clinics and dentists. Subsidies range from $28 to $125 per visit, depending on your household monthly income and the annual value of home.
One of the best ways to avoid spending large chunks of your savings on healthcare is to go for regular health screenings. With early detection and the right intervention, many diseases can be treated with less potential for complications. Hence, the Ministry of Health has a Screen for Life programme which offers eligible Singapore citizens and permanent residents subsidised screenings based on their age and gender. Depending on your eligibility, these tests may be free or cost up to $5.
For instance, women above 25 may be eligible for cervical cancer screenings and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines while men and women above 40 may be eligible for screenings for chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity and diabetes.