450,000 seniors aged 65 or older to get more healthcare subsidies, Medisave topups

To express the country's gratitude, he announced the much-anticipated Pioneer Generation Package which will give them more subsidies at polyclinics, GP and Specialist Outpatient clinics, additional Medisave top ups and help with premiums for the new national insurance scheme, MediShield Life.

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A package for pioneers, with thanks

Nearly half a century after their hard work laid the foundation for modern Singapore, the nation is giving something back to its pioneers.

It is a "special package for a special generation" and it will benefit some 450,000 people.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday gave a glimpse into the much-discussed Pioneer Generation Package at a tribute party at the Istana attended by 1,000 seniors, including opposition veteran Chiam See Tong.

Besides reducing the medical expenses for these pioneers, the health care-focused package will also lessen the burden on their children, Mr Lee said.

The package targets the first generation of Singaporeans as it is this generation whose hard work had set the foundation for the country's development, said Mr Lee.

Hence, only those who are 65 years or older this year, and who received their citizenship before 1987, qualify for the package. They would have been aged 16 or older at independence. "In 1965, many people left school, (and) started work early, often in their teens," Mr Lee said.

"It will include our first batch of national servicemen, who were called up in 1967," he added.

The package will provide more support to pay for MediShield Life premiums, extra subsidies for outpatient treatment, and annual Medisave top-ups. More details will be revealed during the Budget next Friday.

The benefits will be for life, with more help given to those who are older.

PM Lee said many in the pioneer generation would not have much in their Medisave accounts, because the scheme had not been introduced when they were working. Wages were lower when it was introduced in 1984, and Medisave contribution rates had not been built up yet.

He paid tribute to members of the pioneer generation, from mothers and housewives who brought up new generations of Singaporeans, to those who defended the country, such as members of the Volunteer Corps who were active during Konfrontasi.

Mr Lee also pointed out that for the Malay community, Singapore's split with Malaysia in 1965 meant they were faced with a choice - join Malaysia as part of the majority, or remain in Singapore as a minority.

In Malay, Mr Lee said their choice to stay enabled Singapore to grow into a multiracial and multi-religious society.

Mr Lee assured older Singaporeans who may not qualify for the package that the Government would take care of them.

On the sidelines of a separate community event, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said: "Even if you're not part of the (pioneer) group by definition, you'll know someone in your family - an uncle, dad, mum, an aunt - who is part of the pioneer generation."

Mr Chiam, the 78-year-old longtime chief of the Singapore People's Party, approved of the fact that the benefits are recurrent and not one-off. "It's a very big thing for pioneers who are not so well off," he said.


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Here is the full statement from the Ministry of Finance:


About 450,000 seniors will benefit from extra subsidies for MediShield Life and outpatient treatment, as well as annual Medisave top-ups under the Pioneer Generation Package.

As one of the first Singapore 50 (SG50) events, the Pioneer Generation Tribute was held this morning at the Istana. Attended by over 1,000 members of our Pioneer Generation, the event was held to say 'Thank You' to our Pioneer Generation for their contributions in nation-building. These representatives of our Pioneer Generation included those who have served during the early years of Singapore's nationhood in the uniformed services, unions and the community, former political leaders, and ordinary Singaporeans who contributed in many other ways and raised the next generation of Singaporeans.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the event that the Pioneer Generation will receive a Pioneer Generation Package that will be focused on healthcare. Wide consultations have shown that healthcare is at the top of the minds of older Singaporeans. The Package will provide benefits that cover different types of healthcare needs. All members of the Pioneer Generation will enjoy the Pioneer Generation Package for life.

It will include:

a. MediShield Life - more subsidies for the Pioneer Generation, so that they enjoy the enhanced benefits of MediShield Life but pay less premiums than they do for MediShield today

b. Outpatient treatment - extra subsidies for the Pioneer Generation at specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs), polyclinics, and General Practitioner (GP) clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), on top of other subsidies which all citizens already enjoy

c. Medisave - annual top-ups to the Medisave accounts of the Pioneer Generation.

5. The Pioneer Generation Package will be for living Singapore Citizens who meet both the following criteria:

a. Aged 16 years and above in 1965 (born on or before 31 December 1949, i.e. aged 65 years and above in 2014), and

b. Received their citizenship by 31 December 1986. The intent is to include those who were citizens when Singapore became independent, or became citizens in the early years after independence. However, for practical reasons, those who became citizens before 1987 will be included. (While full records exist on who Singapore citizens were, there are gaps with regard to dates of registration of citizens prior to 1987, when manual records were kept*.)

With this definition, about 450,000 seniors are eligible to receive the Pioneer Generation Package.

More information on the package will be announced in Budget 2014 on 21 February 2014. As ongoing work is still being done on MediShield Life, members of the Pioneer Generation will be informed of their detailed premiums at a later date**.

There is no need for Singaporeans to enquire about their eligibility now. Those who are eligible will be informed in due course. Relevant channels will also be established for citizens to check on their eligibility later, if they wish to do so.

Those who attended the Pioneer Generation Tribute were treated to a performance by 67-year-old singer/guitarist John Teo, as well as two fresh graduates from the Singapore School of the Arts (SOTA) - Moira Loh and Lim Jing Jie - who enthralled guests with their rendition of a new composition by John Teo, titled "Sing Singapore, Move on Singapore", as their way of honouring the Pioneers. They were accompanied by nine community choral singers representing the four races in Singapore. This new composition represents an ordinary Singaporean's call for all of us to come together and sing from our hearts for our country, regardless of race, language, or background.

Guests were also invited to take a walk down memory lane with a special exhibition depicting our heritage and the Singapore Story over the last 50 years. The exhibition, "Trading Stories", by the National Heritage Board, showcases the lives of pioneering tradesmen in Singapore and their personal stories of how they coped with challenging times. The "Icons of SG" exhibition showcases icons which represent some of the quirks and values that make us Singaporean.

The Prime Minister also called on all Singaporeans to do their own part to honour our seniors. Members of the Pioneer Generation who wish to share their experiences about Singapore's early years of independence are invited to do so by contacting the Singapore Memory Project at singaporememory@nlb.gov.sg. Members of the public who wish to share their memories about members of our Pioneer Generation may also do so through "A Tribute to our Pioneer Generation", a campaign by the Singapore Memory Project, which will be launched later this month. Members of the public may also share their ideas of how we can celebrate Singapore's 50th at www.singapore50.sg.

*With the full computerisation exercise conducted in end-1986, the government has complete information of all citizenship registration records from 1987 onwards. Prior to 1987, the manual historical records on citizens were not complete with regard to dates of registration.

**The actual premium levels for the Pioneer Generation will be known once the MediShield Life Review Committee has finalised the premiums and benefits for all Singaporeans. However, the Pioneer Generation will enjoy higher subsidy rates, as will be laid out in Budget 2014.