Unsure about health subsidies? Here's help

Unsure about health subsidies? Here's help
Tan Tock Seng Hospital's Ms Nurraihan Ya'acob (facing camera) briefing patient Letchimy Appalsamy, 75, on subsidies for the elderly.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) is offering help to patients unsure of what health-care subsidies they qualify for.

It set up an office this week where patients can make walk-in enquiries about the Government's assistance schemes. So far it has seen about 30 people a day and helped them fill in applications and send in appeals for higher Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOC) subsidies and the Pioneer Generation Package.

It is part of a push by all public health institutions here to help patients navigate a raft of new subsidies that will kick off next month.

Lower- to middle-income Singaporeans, who make up half the population, will enjoy higher subsidies for services at SOCs in public hospitals.

September is also when eligible seniors can start to use their Pioneer Generation cards. Additional subsidies for drugs will kick in next January.

In preparation, hospitals have been training their front-line staff to handle queries relating to the changes.

"It is critical to train front-line staff as they are often the first touch-point for patients," said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor yesterday, during a visit to TTSH.

She sat in on a training session where staff ran through case scenarios and were coached on how to answer questions that patients frequently ask. TTSH has more than 400 front-line staff and three- quarters of them have completed training.

Dr Khor advised pioneers not to delay necessary treatment till after the additional subsidies kick in, as their conditions could worsen.

"Our public health-care institutions have told us that some pioneers are delaying their treatment," she told reporters, adding that these people should approach hospital staff for additional assistance "because it is important that they get the treatment they need in a timely manner".

TTSH has seen very few such cases. Its director of operations, Mr Joe Hau, said: "The numbers are small and we do not see a significant increase. We do monitor their postponement of appointments."

marilee@sph.com.sg


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