This article was updated on 1 June 2018.
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 1.16.
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:
- Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)
- Pioneer Generation Package (PGP)
- Medisave Top-ups For Elderly
- Flexi-Medisave Scheme
- MediShield Life Premiums Subsidies
- Medifund Silver
- Intermediate And Long-Term Care (ILTC) subsidies
- Enhancement For Active Seniors (EASE)
- Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) Levy Concession
- Interim Disability Assistance Programme For The Elderly (IDAPE)
- Seniors’ Mobility And Enabling Fund (SMF)
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.
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.
To apply, you can visit the CHAS website, or go to any public hospital, polyclinic, Community Centre (CC) or Community Development Council (CDC).
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.
> 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.
Qualification for the PGP is based purely on age and citizenship status.
You can find out more about the PGP here.
Medisave Top-ups For Elderly
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can apply for EASE via HDB e-Services, through your phone with [email protected], 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.
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. Do note that from 1 April 2019 onwards, the qualifying age for the aged person will be raised from 65 to 67.
No application is required, as the concession will automatically apply to all seniors aged 67 and above.
If you are hiring a FDW for your family member, at least one of you has to be a Singapore citizen, while the other needs to be a PR to qualify for the levy concession.
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
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.
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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