Pioneer Gen, here are answers for you

PHOTO: Pioneer Gen, here are answers for you

SINGAPORE - Tan Heng Hua, 79, has heard about the Pioneer Generation Package, but has no idea of how it benefits her.

Neither does her husband, who is also in his 70s.

"We are old and have all kinds of illnesses - diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. So it's good that the Government is helping, because we don't have much money. But we are not sure of the details," she said in Mandarin.

Many of the 450,000 seniors estimated to benefit from the Pioneer Generation Package are in the same boat as Madam Tan.

But now a massive campaign is under way to communicate the nuts and bolts of the scheme to the Pioneer Generation.

Yesterday, more than 100 grassroots leaders attended a training session to equip them with information on the package and tips on how to spread the message effectively.

The session was organised by the People's Association's Women's Integration Network Council and the National Community Leadership Institute.

Under the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package, those aged 65 and above this year are eligible for health-care subsidies if they became citizens before 1987.

They will get annual Medisave top-ups, subsidies for MediShield Life premiums and subsidies for outpatient treatment.

Speaking at the session, Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor said: "This generation of Singaporeans tends to be less connected to developments around them."

She said this was due to factors such as their age, language barriers they face, their lack of media awareness and their lower education levels.

"So, we have to take a more proactive as well as multi-pronged and sustained approach to engage them."

Dr Khor, who co-chairs the Pioneer Generation Taskforce, noted that surveys will be conducted to find out the effectiveness of the outreach programmes.

A government survey of 1,500 Singaporeans in March found that seven in 10 know about the package. But of those aware of it, four in 10 do not know its benefits.

Besides yesterday's training session, there have been other training sessions on the package. Over 1,000 frontline health-care staff have been trained to address questions about it.

The Pioneer Generation Taskforce has also published advertorials about the Pioneer Generation Package in newspapers in various languages and put out radio advertisements in Chinese dialects.

Several volunteer groups and organisations have also offered their help in reaching out to pioneers.

The Chinese Development Assistance Council, a Chinese self-help group, is recruiting dialect-speakers, and hopes to get a few hundred volunteers by year-end to help explain the package to older folk.

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