Budget 2014: Higher subsidies for poor and middle-income at specialist outpatient clinics

Many Singaporeans fear rising health-care costs could lead them to forego medical treatment. To prevent this, the Government will be giving higher subsidies to low- and middle-income patients, across all ages, at public specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs).

The current subsidy for Singaporeans is 50 per cent.

From September, this will rise to 70 per cent for low-income patients, and 60 per cent for the middle-income group.

To qualify for the 70 per cent subsidy, patients must have a per capita household income - total income divided by the number of people - of $1,100 or less. For those with no income, their homes must have an annual value of $13,000 or less, which includes the bulk of Housing Board flats.

Those with a per capita household income of $1,101 to $1,800, or who live in homes with an annual value of less than $21,000, will get a 60 per cent subsidy.

All other subsidised patients will continue to get 50 per cent.

Taxi driver C.S. Lee, 58, is among those who will benefit from the higher subsidies.

The father of three lives in a four-room HDB flat in Bukit Purmei. He visits the National Heart Centre every three months for treatment, after suffering a heart attack more than 10 years ago.

The visits cost between $40 and $90 each. "It has added up to a lot over the past 10 years. I have to take lifelong medication, so of course I welcome any added discounts to help me pay for my bills," he said.

Dr Lam Pin Min, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, said the move would be "extremely helpful" in decreasing expenditure for low- and middle-income families.

He added: "The Government has also promised to increase subsidy for medication - one of the main contributors to rising health-care cost."

Details will be given by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong during the Budget debate next month.

For more news and analysis on Singapore Budget 2014, click here.

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