Budget 2014: DPM happy over recognition for first NS batch

Youth reporting for national service on Aug 30, 1967. Singapore's first NS batch will receive health-care benefits in the Pioneer Generation Package.

SINGAPORE - A day after the Budget fleshed out details of the generous health-care benefits in the Pioneer Generation Package, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said he was happy the age range was extended to 65, as this recognises the first batch of national servicemen.

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Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean Facebook post:

"Happy that pioneer gen age extended from 70 to include the 190,000 Singaporeans now 65 to 69 - recognises our first batch NSmen.

"Careful budgeting means we can set aside a fund now to fully pay for this level of pioneer benefits without burdening younger generations."

What the Pioneer Generation are getting:

The much-anticipated package for Singapore's pioneer generation will give this group assistance with their health-care needs for the rest of their lives.

A bumper bundle of top-ups for Medisave accounts, help with outpatient medical costs and subsidies for Medishield Life premiums for the country's pioneers was unveiled by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament on Friday.

He said these benefits will apply to all Singaporeans who were at least 16 years old in 1965, when Singapore became independent. These 450,000 or so Singaporeans will not be differentiated according to income levels, because "our objective is to honour the contributions of this whole generation". But lower-income pioneers will still benefit more through higher health-care subsidies for poorer Singaporeans, he added.

First, all pioneer Singaporeans will receive annual Medisave top-ups of $200 to $800 depending on their age group. Pioneers will also get a further 50 per cent off their bills at specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics. Their total subsidies at specialist outpatient clinics will now amount to 75 per cent to 85 per cent of their bills.

In additional, all pioneers will also now qualify for the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which subsidises private GP and dentist visits. Previously, only the lower-income could qualify for CHAS.

For pioneers who are disabled or immobile, they or their nominated caregivers will get cash assistance of $1,200 a year. Finally, pioneers will pay a subsidised rate for the upcoming MediShield Life universal health insurance scheme. Their premiums will be offset by 40 per cent for those aged 65, rising to 60 per cent for those aged 90 and above.

Mr Tharman made clear that for those aged 80 and above, the Government intends to fully cover their MediShield Life premiums through a combination of subsidies and Medisave top-ups.

NEXT >> Full details on the Pioneer Generation Package


S$8b fund to pay for pioneer generation package

Singapore will set aside S$8 billion in a fund to pay for the Pioneer Generation Package, said Mr Tharman.

It has estimated that the cost of providing the extra benefits to the Pioneer Generation over their lifetimes will be slightly over S$9 billion in nominal terms.

The fund will be used to meet the full projected cost of the pioneer generation package, Mr Tharman told parliament.

Of the S$8 billion in the Fund, about half will be drawn down in the first ten years, he said.

The S$8 billion fund is not intended to cover the underlying healthcare subsidies that the pioneer generation receives together with all Singaporeans. "These will continue to be funded from future annual budgets," said Mr Tharman.

Medisave top-ups of S$200-S$800 for pioneer generation

Singapore plans to include annual Medisave top-ups of S$200 to S$800 for the pioneer generation, said Mr Tharman.

Older pioneer generation cohorts - Singapore citizens who were 16 years or older in 1965 and who received citizenship by Dec 31, 1986 - will enjoy larger top-ups, which will be paid out in August this year.

As for MediShield Life, all pioneer generation members will enjoy subsidies starting from 40 per cent of the MediShield Life premium at age 65. This will rise to 60 per cent of the premium at age 90.

"This means that a 65-year-old today - who is expected to live to 85 - will get a 50 per cent average subsidy over his lifetime," he said.

For pioneer generation members aged 80 and above in 2014, Singapore plans to fully cover their premiums through a combination of premium subsidies and Medisave top-ups.

The MediShield Life subsidies will be implemented in end-2015. MediShield Life will cover all pioneer generation members, including those with pre-existing conditions.

The pioneer generation package will apply to those who were at least 16 years old in 1965. In total, about 450,000 Singaporeans fulfil the criteria.


Up to 85 per cent subsidy for treatments at specialist outpatient clinics

Singapore plans to give the pioneer generation of Singapore a further 50 per cent off their subsidised bills at specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs), said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance on Friday.

This means that all pioneer generation members will receive a 75-85 per cent subsidy for treatment at SOCs. They will also get an additional 50 per cent off their subsidised bills at polyclinics.

Those of the pioneer generation who are under the community health assist scheme (CHAS) - which is currently targeted at lower and middle-income Singaporeans - will enjoy additional subsidies. Those who are not on CHAS will now qualify, Mr Tharman said.

Also, pioneer generation members with moderate to severe functional disabilities, or their nominated caregivers, will receive cash assistance of S$1,200 a year, he said. This is as such Singaporeans face much higher long-term care expenses.

Subsidies for SOCs and polyclinic services, as well as disability assistance, will be implemented in September 2014. The additional CHAS benefits will be put in place in January 2015.

The pioneer generation package will apply to those who were at least 16 years old in 1965. In total, about 450,000 Singaporeans fulfil the criteria.

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