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07 Nov 2022

5th Mar 2019

MOH's Reply

We thank Miss Manjit Kour for her feedback on the means-testing criteria for healthcare subsidy schemes for households with no income (Criteria for means testing can be further simplified, Feb 22).

In general, these schemes are means-tested and tiered so that greater support is extended to lower-income households.

For households with no income, we take into consideration the annual value of their residence.
Households in which their homes have an annual value of $13,000 and below would be eligible for the highest tier of subsidies.

Annual value is the estimated gross annual rent of the property if it were to be rented out, excluding furnishings and maintenance fees. It is determined by the Chief Valuer's Office based on estimated market rentals of similar or comparable properties, and not on the actual rental income received.

The annual value of most HDB flats would fall into this category. For this group, they may be eligible for schemes such as the blue tier of the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), Interim Disability Assistance Programme for the Elderly, Foreign Domestic Worker Grant, and Seniors' Mobility and Enabling Fund.

The Chas orange tier extends benefits to Singapore citizens from middle-income households so as to anchor chronic disease management in the community.

The income and annual value levels are higher. For households with no income, the annual value of residence is set at $21,000 or lower, which covers all HDB flats and some private properties.

We note that Miss Kour's mother is a 90-year-old Singapore citizen. If she is a Pioneer citizen, she would qualify for the Pioneer Generation Package benefits, regardless of income.

The healthcare benefits include additional subsidies at polyclinics, specialist outpatient clinics, as well as Chas GPs and dental clinics; annual Medisave top-ups; special premium subsidies for MediShield Life; and Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme.

In setting the criteria for means-testing, we aim to strike a balance between accuracy and simplicity.

We recognise that no criterion is perfect and therefore consider appeals from those who are in need on a case-by-case basis.

No Singaporean will be denied access to appropriate healthcare due to an inability to pay.

Lim Siok Peng (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Health

Forum Letter

The Straits Times, 5 March 2019

Criteria for means testing can be further simplified

In a recent letter, the Ministry of Finance stated that in designing different schemes, care is taken to minimise complexity (Various means-testing criteria used for social schemes, Feb 15).

This is not the case in reality.

I refer to the different criteria in use currently for means testing for households with no income.

For the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), the annual residence value is set at $21,000 and below. For foreign domestic worker grants, which will now be replaced by the monthly Home Caregiving Grant, the annual residence value is set at $13,000 and below.

Similarly, for schemes under the Ministry of Health and administered by the Agency for Integrated Care, the annual residence value is set at $13,000 and below, excluding those with no annual income but whose residence value is between $13,000 and $21,000.

My 90-year-old mother, who is a Singapore citizen, is bed-bound and I, as her daughter and sole caregiver, retired eight years ago to look after her.

However, she does not qualify for any of the social schemes other than the Chas card, because her old terrace house has a residence value that exceeds $13,000 but is within the $21,000 criterion for the Chas card.

Why can't the means testing be simplified, updated and the annual residence value for all the schemes be set at, say, $21,000 for households with no income?

Manjit Kour (Miss)

Category: Forum Replies