More people used Medifund last year

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More people tapped Medifund last year for medical treatment, although the total amount paid out under the scheme fell by more than $10 million, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a statement yesterday.

In total, $143.9 million was paid out under Medifund in the financial year ended March 31 this year, compared with $155.2 million in the previous year.

More than half of last year's payout - amounting to $78 million - was for outpatient care in public healthcare institutions.

Inpatient care accounted for another $40.9 million, while $25.1 million was given to those who needed non-residential intermediate and long-term care.

This refers to those who required services such as day rehabilitation or home nursing.

In its statement, MOH said that one of the reasons for the lower Medifund payout was the introduction of the MediShield Life scheme in November 2015.

The compulsory insurance scheme, an enhancement of the old MediShield, provides more coverage for large hospital bills.

People use Medifund only when they are still unable to pay their medical bills after using government subsidies, Medisave, MediShield Life or their private integrated insurance plans.

MOH approved 1,136,413 Medifund applications last year, compared with 1,096,628 in 2015.

Last year, it paid an average of $1,124 for each inpatient treatment and $79 per outpatient treatment.

In 2015, the respective figures were $1,529 and $77.