Close to $160 million was given out through Medifund to help needy patients in the last financial year, a 23 per cent increase on the previous one. About a third of the money, $52.4 million, went to people aged 65 and older.
Overall, there was a 30 per cent increase in Medifund use, such as for hospital admissions, outpatient clinic visits and stays in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the higher amount of assistance in FY2014 comes from extending Medifund and Medifund Silver (reserved for Singaporeans aged 65 years and older) to more healthcare facilities.
Medifund is a social safety net set up by the Government in 1993 to help poorer Singaporeans pay for medical treatment - specifically those unable to pay their bills, even after subsidies, insurance, Medisave and cash payments.
They can apply for Medifund aid in public and charitable hospitals, at public specialist clinics and polyclinics, at nursing and aged homes, and hospices. For FY2014 which ended in March this year, 92 per cent of recipients received the full amount applied for.
Patients in C-class wards received the highest amount, averaging $1,750.
The close to 900,000 visits to outpatient clinics saw patients receive an average of $95 each.
Medifund can also be used for dental care, antenatal care and delivery of babies.
The money comes from income earned from the capital sum of $2.78 billion in Medifund and $1.22 billion in Medifund Silver. This is distributed to the 43 Medifund Committees that oversee the distribution of funds to patients of 108 institutions.
Tan Tock Seng Hospital received the largest amount - $21.6 million under Medifund and $10.5 million under Medifund Silver; followed by Singapore General Hospital ($18.6 million and $5.4 million) and the National University Hospital ($16 million and $4 million).
Ren Ci Community Hospital topped the list for intermediate and long-term care facilities with $3.6 million; followed by Bright Vision Hospital with $3.3 million.
The Agency for Integrated Care, which disburses funds for 47 institutions, received $3 million.
The MOH said the Government is "committed to ensure that Singaporeans have access to good and affordable healthcare".
This article was first published on Nov 26, 2015.
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