The number of Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) cardholders has increased by five times since 2012 to around 1.3 million Singaporeese.
In the past six years, the amount spent on the scheme has also increased by more than 10 times.
Just last year, the government paid approximately $ 154 million in Chas subsidies to some 650,000 Singaporean citizens, the Health Ministry said yesterday in a statement.
These numbers are likely to grow further after the announcement of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the National Day Rally on Sunday that the scheme will be extended to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions, regardless of their income. This means that they are eligible for subsidized medical treatment, with layered benefits based on their income level.
The current Chas subsidizes outpatient medical and dental treatments for households with a low to average resident capacity and the Pioneer Generation, which refers to Singaporeans who were 16 years of age or older in 1965.
There are now more than 1,000 Chas GP clinics and 700 dental clinics on the entire island.
Amount in Chas subsidies that the government paid to about 650,000 Singaporean citizens last year, according to the Ministry of Health.
Number of Chas patients that made claims for chronic conditions last year. This amounted to approximately 688,000 visits to Chas GPs, an increase of 675,000 in 2016.
Last year about 181,000 Chas patients made claims for chronic conditions. This amounted to approximately 688,000 visits to Chas GPs, an increase of 675,000 in 2016.
PM Lee on Sunday also announced the Merdeka Generation Package, which will provide more support for the health care needs of Singaporeans born between 1950 and 1959, benefiting approximately 500,000 Singaporean people. It will cover a similar area to the Pioneer Generation package of $ 8 billion, even though the benefits will not be as great.
More details about the Chas expansions and the Merdeka generation package will be released next year, said MOH yesterday in his statement.
Prime Minister Lee promised in his Rally speech that health care is one of the areas where the government will make no effort to help the citizens.
He mentioned Jalan Besar GRC member Lily Neo in his speech and noted that she has seen more elderly patients in her GP post after Chas was introduced.
Dr. Neo told The Straits Times yesterday that she is happy that the figures under Chas are rising but added that it remains important to make it known.
"There is this subsidy from the government – why not take and ensure someone's health better?" she said. Dr. Neo said that the number of older patients in her Tanglin Halt clinic has at least doubled after Chas was introduced. Previously, these patients would be less inclined to seek treatment due to concerns about costs.
General practitioner Lee Kwok Keong, 44, who runs a clinic in Punggol, estimates that about 15 to 20 percent of his patients receive Chas subsidies.
Dr. Lee is happy that Chas is being improved.
"It's a good idea and I'm completely behind, especially because the population is getting older and diagnosed with more chronic conditions," he said. But he added that some might need help with administrative procedures, such as the renewal of their Chas cards that are usually valid for two years.
Chas has been helpful to many as resident technical assistant Leong Yew Kay, 64.
Mr. Leong – who has had high blood pressure and high cholesterol since 1995 – pays nothing to consult with the doctor because of his chronic condition by Chas, saving him about $ 390 a year.
Said Mr. Leong, the only breadwinner of his family of four: "I am happy and grateful that there are Chas subsidies because I can spend less on medical expenses."