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[2020 Edition] Seniors’ Guide To Healthcare Schemes, Grants And Subsidies In Singapore

Every dollar counts.

This article was previously published on 1 June 2018 and updated to reflect the latest changes to the various schemes, grants and subsidies at time of writing in 2020.

Similar to many other developed nations, Singapore has been and continues to face an aging population. Put simply, our country’s population is getting older, and we have more older folks being supported by fewer number of younger people.

While the natural replacement rate of a country is usually 2.1 babies per woman, the fertility rate in our country currently stands at just 1.14.

This means moving forward, healthcare schemes, grants, and subsidies will become even more important, as Singaporeans combat the challenges brought about by our ageing population.

The government has already put in place numerous schemes to support our seniors during their golden years. These schemes are administered by various government departments including the Ministry of Health, the Central Provident Fund Board (CPF Board) and HDB.

One of the greatest challenges facing health and social care workers in Singapore is getting the right information to the right people. Though there are plenty of schemes, subsidies and grants available to the elderly in Singapore, many eligible seniors may not be utilising them because they are not even aware that they exist.

You can do your part by understanding the various schemes, grants and subsidies that you can tap on to support yourself, or your aged loved ones, during their golden years.

Find Out More:

The various schemes, grants and subsidies can be grouped according to three groups. They are 1) Healthcare Subsidies, 2) MediShield Life and 3) Day-To-Day Senior Care Support.

Healthcare Subsidies

Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)

Community Health Assist Scheme, better known as CHAS, enables Singapore Citizens from lower-to-middle-income households, as well as all Pioneers (aged 65 and above in 2014), to receive subsidies for medical and dental care at participating General Practitioners (GP) and dental clinics near their home.

CHAS is a tiered subsidy scheme. This means lower-income families will enjoy higher subsidies. The subsidy tier depends on the average household monthly income per capita. If your household has no income, the subsidy tier will be tied to the annual value of your home, as assessed by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore.

However, seniors who qualify for the Pioneer Generation Package will enjoy enhanced CHAS benefits, regardless of their household income.

Here is the eligibility criteria for CHAS and the various subsidies that you receive.

Source: CHAS

To apply, you can visit the CHAS website, or go to any public hospital, polyclinic, Community Centre (CC) or Community Development Council (CDC).

You can find out more about CHAS on its website.


Pioneer Generation Package (PGP)

Introduced in the Singapore Budget 2014, the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) is a $8 billion healthcare fund for the Pioneer Generation, which consists of Singaporeans born in 1949, and who have obtained Singapore citizenship by 31 December 1986.

In total, about 450,000 citizens qualify for the PGP which consists of 1) outpatient care subsidies, 2) MediShield Life premium subsidies 3) Medisave top-ups, and 4) disability income assistance  and 5) participation incentive for joining CareShield Life.

– Special subsidies at CHAS GP and dental clinics.

– Additional 50% off subsidised services and medication at polyclinics and specialist outpatient care in public hospitals.

– Special premiums subsidies for MediShield Life premiums.

– Annual Medisave top-ups ranging from $200 to $800 annually for life. Again, the top-ups are tiered which means the older you are, the more subsidies you get.

– $100 each month for those who qualify for the pioneer generation disability assistance scheme.

– Total of $4,000 participation incentive to join CareShield Life by 31 December 2023. This will be spread over ten years and used to offset their annual CareShield Life premiums.

Qualification for the PGP is based purely on age and citizenship status.

You can find out more about the PGP here.


Merdeka Generation Package

The Merdeka Generation Package is for Singaporeans born from 1 January 1950 to 31 December 1959, and who became a Singapore Citizen on or before 31 December 1996. The package is also given to seniors who do not receive the Pioneer Generation Package, but were born on or before 31 December 1949, and became a Singapore Citizen on or before 31 December 1996

Intended to honour the generation who steered the nation during the nation’s growing years, the Merdeka Generation Package consists of 1) a one-off $100 PAssion Silver Card top-up, 2) MediSave top-ups, 3) Outpatient Care Subsidies, 4) participation incentive for joining CareShield Life and 5) Additional MediShield Life Premium Subsidies

– One-off $100 PAssion Silver Card top-up which can be used for public transport, ActiveSG gym and pool entries, at Ezlink-accepted merchants and Active Aging Programmes.

– $200 Medisave Top-Ups every year, from 2019 to 2023.

– Additional 25% off remaining bill for subsidised services and medications at polyclinics and public specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs). A referral from polyclinic or CHAS clinic is required for subsidized rates at public SOCs.

– Subsidised rates at CHAS clinics and $2 fixed fee for Recommended Health Screening
through Screen for Life.

– Total of $4,000 participation incentive to join CareShield Life.

– Additional 5% subsidy for your annual premiums for MediShield Life, increasing to 10% after the age of 75.

Read Also: Merdeka Generation Package 2019: Who’s Eligible And What Singaporeans Will Be Receiving

Medisave Top-ups For Elderly

Update: This has been replaced by the PGP and MGP.

Singaporean seniors who do not fall under the Pioneer Generation will receive Medisave top-ups of $100 to $200 annually until 2018. Medisave can be used to pay for your personal or immediate family’s hospitalisation, day surgery and specific outpatient expenses in any hospital in Singapore.

If you are already receiving GST Voucher – Cash or GST Voucher – Medisave, there is no need to sign up. Otherwise, you can apply through any Community Centre, Social Service Office (SSO), CPF Service Centre, or the GST Voucher website.


Flexi-Medisave Scheme

Introduced in 2015, this scheme allows seniors, aged 65 and above, to use an additional $200 of their Medisave a year, for outpatient medical treatments at CHAS-registered public-sector specialist outpatient clinics (SOCs), GPs and polyclinics.

Do note that the $200 of Flexi-Medisave can be used over and above other outpatient Medisave limits, such as the $400 annual limit for the Chronic Disease Management Programme, and the $300 limit for outpatient scans.

You can read up more about the use of the Flexi-Medisave in this release from the Ministry of Health.


MediShield Life

MediShield Life Premium Subsidies

MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan that pays for large hospital bills and specific outpatient treatments, and is extended to Singaporeans and PRs for life. The government subsidises all senior citizens’ MediShield Life Premiums by up to 50 per cent for lower- and middle-income households.

For seniors who are unable to afford MediShield Life premiums even after the subsidies, additional support will be provided. No application is required for this, as the subsidies will be distributed based on existing information in the Government databases.

To check or update your household information used to calculate your Premium Subsidies, you can check the Household Check e-Service.

Read Also: Why Singapore’s Medishield Life Is A Well Designed Healthcare System


Medifund Silver

Targeted towards the needy elderly, Medifund Silver helps seniors who require financial support after exhausting their finances on their medical bills. Medifund assistance can be sought through consultation with medical social workers from Medifund-approved institutions.

To be clear, Medifund Silver is a subset of Medifund, which is for the general population. It does not overlap the role of Medifund.

Read Also: What Happens When You Can’t Pay For Your Hospitalisation Bills In Singapore?


Day-to-Day Senior Care Support

While CHAS, the PGP and the various MediShield and Medisave subsidies and top-ups are well-discussed, many of the areas provided under the senior care support are less known.


Intermediate And Long Term Care (ILTC) Subsidies

ILTC subsidies extend not just to seniors, but also to people who need further care and treatment after being discharged from the hospital as well as people who are frail and require day-to-day assistance.

Support areas include the following.

Home-Based Services: Home Medical Care; Home Nursing Care; Palliative Home Care; Meals-On-Wheel; Escort/Transport Services; Home Personal Care

Centre-Based Services: Community Rehabilitation Services; Dementia Day Care Services; Social Day Care Services

Residential ILTC Services: Community Hospitals; Chronic Sick Hospitals; Nursing Homes

Inpatient Hospice Care: Sheltered Home For Ex-Mentally ill; Respite Care

Getting such health and social care can be very expensive over the long term, and subsidies of up to 80% for home care and 75% for residential services (e.g. nursing homes), are in place to help offset these bills.

To qualify for these subsidies, the main eligibility criteria are that 1) the person must be a Singapore citizens or Permanent Residents, 2) meet the admission criteria of the ILTC services required and 3) are receiving care from MOH-funded service providers.

Once again, the subsidies are tiered according to monthly household income per person, and vary according to the type of care required.

If you need more information on the subsidies available, please visit the MOH website.


Enhancement For Active Seniors (EASE)

Offered by HDB, this scheme allows HDB owners who are 65 or above, or have a family member in the household who is 65 and above, to make their flats elder-friendly by installing useful items. These items include grab bars, slip-resistant bathroom floors and ramps.

Those who are aged between 60 and 64 years and requires assistance for one or more of the Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are also eligible. These activities include washing/ bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, mobility, and transferring.

You can apply for EASE via HDB e-Services, through your phone with Mobile@HDB, or visit the HDB Branch that administers your estate. So, don’t miss out on such subsidies if you are already intending to install any of these items.

Read Also: Guide To Government Subsidies For Slip-Resistant Tiles, Grab Bars & Ramps Under The HDB Enhancement For Active Seniors (EASE) Programme


Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy Concession

Seniors who wish to hire a FDW, or for people who wish to hire a FDW to care for a family member staying with them, may be eligible for a lower levy rate of $60 per month. The qualifying age for the aged person is 67. This is only applicable for Singaporean seniors. If the senior is a Permanent Resident and you or your spouse is Singaporean, you may also apply for the levy concession.

No application is required if you are the employer, as the concession will automatically apply to all seniors aged 67 and above.

Alternatively, people with disabilities (PWD), certified by Singapore-registered doctor to require help with at least 1 activity of daily living (ADL), such as showering, feeding, dressing or toileting are also eligible for the concession.

Application is required if you are hiring a FDW for your family member, or for PWD.

If you hire the FDW to take care of a family member who needs permanent assistance with 3 or more ADLs, you may also qualify for the Home Caregiving Grant, a monthly grant of $200. For more details, please refer to AIC.


CareShield Life

The launch of CareShield Life has been delayed to end-2020 instead of mid-2020 as announced earlier due to delays caused by COVID-19 measures.

CareShield Life will replace the existing ElderShield and provides better coverage for those who require long term care in Singapore. It features 1) lifetime cash payouts, 2) increasing payouts over time, 3) subsidies that make it affordable and 4) premiums that are payable by MediSave.

Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents born in 1980 or after are automatically covered under CareShield Life or will be enrolled when they reach the age of 30.

Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents born in 1979 or earlier can choose to join CareShield Life from end-2021, if they are not severely disabled. You will be automatically enrolled if you are born between 1970 and 1979, are insured under the ElderShield 400 scheme, and are not severely disabled.



Update: ElderShield will be replaced by CareShield Life for new cohorts born in 1980 and after, while those born in 1979 or earlier have the option to enrol in CareShield Life.

ElderShield is a national insurance scheme that aims to provide basic insurance coverage to Singaporeans who are in need of long-term care support during their old age.

Unlike Medishield Life, which is compulsory for all, ElderShield is an opt-out scheme. That means all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) can choose to opt-out of the insurance scheme if they wish to.

Under ElderShield 400, policyholders will receive a payout of $400 per month for a maximum of 72 months (6 years) if they are assessed to have “severe disability”.

The criteria for severe disability are when a person cannot perform three out of six Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).

Source: Ministry Of Health

Read Also: Turning 40 This Year? Here’s What You Need To Know About ElderShield


Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly (IDAPE)

Since ElderShield was only introduced in 2002, there could have been some citizens who may not have been eligible to join it – as they already exceeded the maximum entry age or have pre-existing disabilities.

For these seniors, IDAPE will provide a cash payout of up to $250 a month for up to 6 years, should they meet the necessary criteria. The criteria to be met are similar to that of ElderShield.

Coverage for IDAPE and ElderShield do not overlap. You are either eligible for one or the other, not both.


Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF)

The Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) provides holistic support for seniors

to help them remain mobile and live independently. The fund provides financial support for cost items that fall within one of three categories.

Assistive Devices: This refers to items that help an elderly person move around, such as walking sticks, wheelchairs and pushchairs. It also includes things that an elderly person may need at home, such as commodes, pressure relief cushions and hospital beds as well as spectacles and hearing aids.

Transport: For seniors attending any day services at the Ministry of Health-funded Eldercare Centres, Dialysis Centres or Day Hospices can get subsidies for their transport costs.

Home Healthcare Items: Frail seniors who can stay in nursing homes but choose to stay at home and be supported by home healthcare services in their community can get subsidies for the cost of catheters, milk supplements, thickeners, adult diapers, nasal tubing and wound dressings.

There are different criteria in order to qualify for the various subsidies. You can get more information here.

Read Also: Your Complete Guide To Healthcare Financing In Singapore

The plethora of assistance programmes support Singapore’s seniors in enjoying dignified lives without putting burden of financial strain on families. However, as mentioned above, these schemes, grants and subsidies are only useful if the people who qualify for them actually know about it. You can do your part by keeping yourself well-informed, and to let your family members and friends who qualify for them know about it.

Have we missed out some other programmes? Drop us a message at [email protected] if there are any more grants, initiatives and schemes that you know about.

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