SINGAPORE - Medisave purse strings will be loosened further to help people cope with the cost of their outpatient treatments.
Currently, people can use only up to $400 per Medisave account a year for chronic diseases, and up to $600 for outpatient scans, but only if the scans are for cancer.
From July 1, the Government is scrapping the $30 deductible amount patients must pay each time they use Medisave for chronic outpatient treatments.
This move means people will have less out-of-pocket payments to make, and can draw more from the $400 annual maximum to defray their bills for chronic care.
However, the 15 per cent co-payment remains.
And from early next year, people can use up to $300 a year for non-cancer-related scans needed for outpatient diagnosis and treatment. These include magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography scans, X-rays and ultrasound scans.
Medisave currently pays for such scans for patients who are hospitalised and this has led some to ask to be warded so that they can make a claim from Medisave.
However, this $300 cannot be used to increase the payment for cancer scans beyond the $600 cap.
The other change for outpatient treatment is that, from next year, older people can withdraw up to $200 more a year from Medisave for outpatient treatment.
Details of who qualifies and what it can be used for are still being worked out and will be announced in the next few months.
But Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this Flexi-Medisave scheme can be used for coughs and colds at a private clinic that is on the Community Health Assist Scheme. It can also be used to pay for chronic care if a person has used up all the $400 a year allowed for this.
The call to let people draw more from their Medisave was made in Parliament on Wednesday by MPs such as Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam.
He said: "Patients above age 75 should be allowed to use their Medisave without being subject to annual limits. This will ensure that they are not deterred from seeking treatment because of high out-of-pocket payments."
In his response, Mr Gan said many elderly Singaporeans want to be self-reliant and not be a burden to their children, and have asked to be allowed to tap their Medisave more easily.
"We hear you," he said. "While we remain concerned about depletion of Medisave balance, we can consider more flexibility, especially for older Singaporeans."
Medisave contributions will go up by one percentage point next year.
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