The haze is like the paparazzi.
The worse it gets, the more you're likely to be seen walking around dressed in a surgical mask and huge sunglasses (optional: paper bag over your head) looking like you're trying to avoid the prying eyes of the media.
And after PSI readings entered "hazardous" levels on Sept 24, it seemed like half of Singapore was embroiled in some kind of underage sex scandal, the way they were trying to avoid the haze.
The most expensive season of the year?
In addition to inconveniencing you, I bet the haze will be hurting your wallet financially too.
Whether it's buying that new N95 mask technology, or having your air conditioner on 24/7, or taking a cab because you don't want to risk waiting in the haze for the bus or train, it's pretty clear that the haze is going to cost us.
I'm guessing there's going to be a different kind of haze over our eyes once our electricity and credit card bills come in next month.
Fortunately, there are ways to save money during the haze!
While our medical problems might get worse if we haven't been taking care of ourselves during this past month, it's good to know that the haze won't be burning a huge hole in our wallet.
This is because the Ministry of Health has re-activated the Haze Subsidy Scheme at all polyclinics as well as most private clinics across the island. The Ministry has provided a list of participating clinics.
How does the Haze Subsidy Scheme work?
If you think you're coming down with a haze-related medical condition, you may get to enjoy subsidised treatment of no more than $10.
The eligible medical conditions are: allergic rhinitis, asthma, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), conjunctivitis and upper respiratory tract infections (URTI).
That last one isn't to be confused with urinary tract infections, which tend to be caused by people staying in bed for entirely different reasons.
But wait… this Scheme is not for everyone, right?
The Haze Subsidy Scheme, like other haze-related announcements, are intended to help those who need it most.
After all, when school was cancelled today, it only applied to Primary and Secondary school students, not those in tertiary institutions.
And that post about "Voluntary Non-Work Day" that claimed to be from the Ministry of Manpower unfortunately (and not surprisingly) turned out to be a hoax.
Okay fine, life isn't fair.
So who can enjoy the subsidies?
All children aged 18 and below and elderly aged 65 and above are eligible. In addition to these age groups, all those who are under the following schemes are also eligible:
- Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)
- Public Assistance (PA)
- Medical Fee Exemption Card (MFEC)
- Medical Fee Assistance Card (MFAC), and
- Pioneer Generation (PA)
Wow, we Singaporeans really love our acronyms, huh.
Also, you are eligible if you earn $1,800 or less a month (averaged over the last six months).
However, you will need to fill in a self-declaration form first. The form will be available at the polyclinic and participating clinics.
How much does it cost?
No more than $10 per patient. What's more, if you have the Pioneer Generation card, then you pay no more than $5.
But that's not all…
In addition to the savings from the Haze Subsidy Scheme, ComCare clients aged over 62, CHAS Blue Card and Pioneer Generation Card holders can also collect two N95 masks for free from distribution points at 108 Community Centres across Singapore.
And what about the rest of us who are between the ages of 18 and 65?
Well, there's still at least one more way to save money. An online t-shirt shop called CottonTee.
Asia has promised to give a storewide discount based on the 3-hourly PSI level.
On Sept 24, because it reached "Hazardous" levels, the discount was as high as 50 per cent. Talk about a true haze subsidy.
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