Medifund to be extended to home nursing services in 2012

PHOTO: Medifund to be extended to home nursing services in 2012

SINGAPORE - Coming April this year, Medifund subsidies will be available for home-based healthcare services, said the Minister of Health Mr Gan Kim Yong.

Mr Yong was responding to a question asked by Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan, MP of Nee Soon GRC, in today's Parliamentary session.

Mr Tay asked if Medisave and Medishield schemes can be extended to home palliative care and home nursing services.

To that, Mr Gan said that the Government provides subsidies of up to 75 per cent for lower and middle income patients who require home palliative and home nursing services.

Patients can also use cash payouts from ElderShield to further defray the cost of such services.

For home palliative care, the Government has allowed use of Medisave funds since 2010.

However, as MediShield is designed as a basic insurance scheme for catastrophic hospitalisation expenses to keep premiums affordable, it is therefore unable to cover home-based services.

Nevertheless, needy patients who require additional financial assistance for home-based healthcare services beyond the subsidies they are receiving will be able to apply for Medifund subsidies soon.

The Government will be extending Medifund subsidies to such home-based services from April 2012, Mr Gan said.

Medifund is an endowment fund set by the Government.

The interest income from the capital sum of Medifund is allocated to approved hospitals and medical institutions in the form of grants, which are then used to help needy Singaporeans pay for the medical bills which they cannot afford.

Mr Gan added that the voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) that provide home-based services also provide additional financial help for their patients if necessary.

Mr Gan said the ministry will continue to review government subsidies and the use of ElderShield and Medisave to ensure affordability of such home-based services for the elderly, while balancing against the adequacy of Medisave and the impact on ElderShield premiums.