Aug 26, 2013

    Stay healthy, even as Govt pays more in health costs

    MANY of my elderly residents had big smiles on their faces for the past week.

    They were happy with what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced at the National Day Rally on Aug 18.

    Top on the elderly folk's minds was the Pioneer Generation Package for seniors.

    The residents also gave the thumbs up to the health-care announcements, especially the Ministry of Health's proposal for MediShield to cover those above 90 years old and people with pre-existing illnesses.

    I was happy to share more details with them.

    Firstly, outpatient care will be cheaper. The age floor for the Community Health Assist Scheme will be removed, allowing more Singaporeans from lower- and middle-income households to benefit, and pay less when they see a general practitioner or dentist on the scheme.

    We will also increase the subsidies for specialist outpatient clinics for patients from lower- and middle-income households.

    Many Singaporeans have also asked for Medisave use for more outpatient treatments, which we are studying.

    Secondly, Singaporeans can look forward to greater assurance on health-care bills with MediShield Life.

    My ministry proposes to make MediShield universal - to cover Singaporeans for life, and also those with pre-existing conditions.

    To support these changes, everyone will need to exercise collective responsibility in sharing the costs through higher premiums. For those who cannot afford the costs, the Government will do its part to provide help.

    We will be consulting widely to seek views.

    However, even as the Government takes on a greater share of the medical costs, we will still need to take responsibility for our own health - eat right, exercise regularly and save for a rainy day.

    Just last week, I attended the launch of the Sembawang Population Health Project graced by National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

    The project is a collaboration between the Sembawang constituency, Ministry of Health, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Health Promotion Board.

    It is aimed at supporting Sembawang residents to take greater responsibility for their health through improving health awareness, enabling better health management, and making the environment in Sembawang a healthier one to live in.

    This was one of the objectives when we launched the Healthy Living Master Plan (HLMP) - for the community to co-create a healthier living environment with us.

    Earlier this year, we set up the HLMP Task Force whose vision is to ensure that healthy living is accessible, effortless and affordable to all Singaporeans.

    The task force had also embarked on a six-week-long public-consultation exercise to seek views on healthy living.

    We are studying the feedback submitted and will share our findings in the next quarter.

    As chairman of the HLMP Task Force, I look forward to more examples of how HLMP can be realised in the community.

    Together, we can make a difference to everyone's health. And with good health, we can do so much more for Singapore, our loved ones and ourselves.

    I hope to encourage more individuals and community partners to come forward to join us in this meaningful journey.

    If you aren't already on board, join us now.

    Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim is Parliamentary Secretary at the ministries of Health and Transport.