Treatment costs more affordable under Community Assistant Health Scheme
Those on Community Health Assist Scheme receive subsidised medical care
Ms Lee Yee Theng used to self-medicate instead of going to her GP when she had a cough or cold.
That changed when she became a blue Health Assist cardholder five years ago under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas).
Chas, run by the Agency for Integrated Care, makes treatment costs at private medical and dental clinics more affordable for lower- to middle-income Singaporeans and pioneers.
Ms Lee, 43, told The New Paper: "On the Chas programme, I no longer waited until my sickness became jialat (Hokkien for dire) to see a doctor."
She is one of 685,000 Singaporeans who received Chas subsidies last year, Health Minister Gan Kim Yongsaid yesterday.
Speaking at the Chas Family Carnival, he added that some $1.69 million in subsidies were given out under the scheme last year.
There are three subsidy tiers under Chas. For blue Health Assist cardholders (per capita household monthly income of $1,100 and less), Chas pays up to $18.50 when they see a GP for common problems, and as much as $80 for chronic problems.
For orange Health Assist cardholders (per capita household monthly income of $1,100 to $1,800), Chas does not subsidise common problems, but pays up to $50 when they see a GP for chronic ailments.
Pioneer Generation cardholders get up to $28.50 in subsidy per visit for common problems, and up to $90 per visit for chronic conditions.
Ms Lee's blue card was changed to an orange card when she found a job as a senior programme coordinator two years ago.
While she is no longer covered for common problems, she uses the orange card for her quarterly GP visits to monitor her high blood pressure.
We hope that such improvements will help to make clinic charges and Chas subsidies clearer to patients as well as doctors. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on the introduction of itemised billing last October
"It's a good thing that my GP is on Chas. That really saved me a lot of money. I collect my hypertension medication every three months or so, and I don't need to pay much," said Ms Lee, who was diagnosed after sharing her family history of high blood pressure with her GP.
Citing her as an example, Mr Gan emphasised the need to have a regular GP.
Family doctors have in-depth knowledge of their patients' medical and family history and are better placed to provide holistic care.
The Government will continue to support GPs in caring for Singaporeans, he said.
This includes scaling-up of efforts to re-organise GPs into Primary Care Networks and enhancing the Health Promotion Board's Screen-For-Life Programme from Sept 1 to make health screening more affordable and convenient.
"While the Government will continue to work with our primary care partners to provide accessible, affordable and quality healthcare for all, each of us has a part to play as well," Mr Gan said.
With affordable care comes the danger of over-claiming on consultations and treatments not performed.
Last week, the Ministry of Health served notices of intended suspension of Chas accreditation to three clinics over "numerous non-compliant Chas claims".
To ensure transparency of clinic charges and Chas subsidies, MOH introduced itemised billing last October to list treatment fees and subsidies received for patients.
"We hope that such improvements will help to make clinic charges and Chas subsidies clearer to patients as well as doctors," Mr Gan said.