Lease buyback may apply to bigger flats
ASIDE from helping seniors with their medical needs, those who live in bigger Housing Board flats may soon be able to get cash from their flats while living in them during their golden years.
Speaking on the sidelines of a post-Budget dialogue with grassroots leaders in Woodlands yesterday, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said that the Government is considering extending the lease buyback scheme to elderly folk living in bigger Housing Board flats.
The scheme, introduced in 2009 and enhanced last year, lets home owners sell part of their lease back to the Government. It is in place only for three-room and smaller flats currently.
Although it has not been very popular, Mr Khaw said it would not stop the HDB from extending the scheme to bigger flats as it provides more options for seniors.
"I do not regard the low take-up rate as a failure," he said. "I would just say that what it means is that people are not financially desperate to need to take advantage of those options. The options are there for those who need it. But that doesn't mean that we will stop at three-room flats. We can always consider."
Commenting on Budget 2014, he said that the greater health-care subsidies for seniors and the Pioneer Generation Package will go some way to "debunk" the view that health care is not affordable for seniors.
For instance, the pioneer generation members - those aged 65 and above this year and who became citizens before 1987 - will receive more subsidies on outpatient care. They will also get Medisave top-ups and MediShield Life subsidies.
Taking the premium subsidies and Medisave top-ups together, someone who is 80 this year will not need to pay any MediShield Life premiums at all, said Mr Khaw. Seniors aged 55 and above, who miss out on the package, get help in the form of five years of annual Medisave top-ups of $100 to $200.
"So with this Budget, where there is greater subsidy for health-care, and on top of that - the package for the pioneers - we have definitively debunked this comment that health care is not affordable," he said.