Push to explain pioneers' package

SINGAPORE - A major effort is under way to explain the details of the Pioneer Generation Package to Singaporeans, after a poll found that many were in the dark about its benefits or did not feel assured by them.

About 1,000 front-line staff in public hospitals and polyclinics are being trained to help patients understand the package and address their questions and concerns.

The training has begun and the communication drive will start in September. It will include more television and radio messages broadcast in different Chinese dialects and the publishing of more non-English brochures for the elderly.

The Pioneer Generation Package is the centrepiece of this year's national Budget.

A telephone poll last month of 1,500 Singaporeans of all ages showed seven in 10 citizens had heard of it.

But among those who knew of it, two-fifths could not name any of its benefits, Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo said on April 21 at a media conference with Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor.

The survey, however, showed a higher level of awareness among the pioneer generation: 85 per cent of the 244 pioneers polled had heard of it.

Both senior ministers chair the task force set up to raise awareness of the package, announced in the Budget speech in February. It will benefit 450,000 citizens aged 65 and older this year and who were either born in Singapore or became citizens before 1987.

The package includes Medisave top-ups and subsidies for outpatient treatment, and promises to pay part of seniors' MediShield Life premiums.

Mrs Teo said half of those surveyed felt more assured that the package would make healthcare costs for pioneers significantly more affordable. One-third were unsure or neutral.

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