As a matter of principle, the Singapore government is committed to ensuring all Singaporeans have access to quality, affordable healthcare.
This is accomplished through a multi-layered system, with participation from the individual, the government, private employers, and the insurance industry. DollarsAndSense has written previously about Singapore’s multi-layered healthcare financing system, consisting of government subsidies, Medisave payments, Medishield Life payouts, and other schemes.
However, what happens when you’re still not able to afford the reduced hospital bill?
Money Should Not Deter You From Seeking Medical Help
In most cases, no cash deposit is required for patients who are Singaporean citizens and permanent residents.
However, a deposit may be collected later on if the estimated hospital bill exceeds the Medisave withdrawal limit or available Medisave balances. The deposit amount varies depending on the class of ward and hospital. If you have insurance, a letter of guarantee from your insurer will usually be accepted in the place of a deposit.
It is important to remember that no one will be turned away and denied care if they do not have money upfront, so you should you should make decisions based on what is best for the patient’s well-being, before financial considerations.
Medifund: When Subsidies, Medisave, And MediShield Life Are Still Not Enough
Medifund is a medical endowment fund set up by the government as a safety net for needy Singaporean patients who face financial difficulties with their medical bills after exhausting all other means of payment such as MediShield Life, private integrated shield plans, and Medisave. Medifund Silver and Medifund Junior was introduced in 2007 and 2013 respectively to provide more targeted assistance to the elderly (age 65 and above) and children (below the age of 18), who are more financially vulnerable.
Medifund was set up in April 1993 with an initial capital of $200 million, with the government injecting more capital funds periodically over the years. The interest income generated from the capital sum is used to provide Medifund assistance. In recent years, Medifund has been extended and be allowed to help cover more healthcare services, polyclinic treatment, dental services, and delivery services.
Singapore citizens receiving treatment at public hospitals, specialist outpatient clinics and approved healthcare institutions can apply for Medifund assistance, if the patient and their family have financial difficulties paying for the medical bills after exhausting other means.
How Much Help From Medifund Can You Expect To Receive?
Every Medifund-approved institution has a Medifund Committee that considers and approve applications, before deciding on the appropriate amount of assistance to provide. The quantum of assistance granted depends on the patient and their family members’ financial situation, as well as the size of the medical bill.
Medifund Committee members are volunteers and are usually actively involved in community and social work. The guiding principle for Medifund is to adopt a flexible and compassionate approach towards applicants.
How Do You Apply For Medifund?
Hospitals have a medical social services department that provide financial counselling and advice. They are also the ones who will help you put up the request for Medifund assistance.
Consultation with a medical social worker is helpful because they will help you explore other options, such as interest-free instalments for your medical bills, additional grants and drug subsidies.
Medifund applications will be submitted by a medical social worker and then evaluated by the healthcare institution’s Medifund Committee.
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