Simplify benefits for pioneers

SINGAPORE - I agree it is better to frame the Pioneer Generation Package from the perspective of pioneers than of policymakers ("How to reassure Ah Pek on the Pioneer Package"; last Wednesday). It is not realistic to expect less-educated elderly folk to remember the complex web of subsidies.

Also, why are benefits in the package subjected to free market forces, resulting in the pioneer generation having to bear with price hikes?

For example, pioneers will enjoy special Community Health Assist Scheme subsidies, such as $28.50 each time they see the doctor for common illnesses.

The problem is that not all general practitioners (GPs) charge the same price. Hence, if doctor A charges $35, the pioneer needs to pay only $6.50; but if doctor B charges $45, he has to pay $16.50.

And what can pioneers do when public hospitals, polyclinics and GPs increase their charges due to higher operating costs, while the subsidies remain unchanged?

The package should be structured in such a way that pioneers need to co-pay only a fixed sum, without caveats, when they visit doctors to treat their common illnesses or chronic conditions.

For example, they could pay only $6 per visit for treatment of common illnesses, and up to $100 per month for treatment of multiple chronic illnesses.

Life would be much simpler for pioneers, who can focus on getting well without having to worry about affordability of health care.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi

This article was first published on May 28, 2014.
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