Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Ong Teng Koon

MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC

Question No. 735

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether the misallocation of hospital beds due to patients opting to be treated as inpatients in order to claim inpatient insurance and avoid out-of-pocket outpatient medical costs transfers the financial burden from the individual to the state; and (b) if so, whether the Ministry will look into outpatient insurance as an option under Medishield Life to enable individuals to afford their own outpatient costs.

Oral Answer

1 Right-siting and providing appropriate care are important priorities for the healthcare system to deliver value for our patients and ensure longer-term sustainability. These include initiatives to focus on health promotion and disease prevention, as well as efforts to improve productivity and develop our primary care and intermediate and long-term care facilities in the community.

2 Over the past few years, MOH has enhanced government subsidies for outpatient services and drugs. Patients can receive up to 70% subsidy at Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOCs) and up to 75% subsidy for drugs and medication. Additional support is provided for Pioneer Generation (PG) patients, they receive a further 50% off their subsidised outpatient bills.

3 We have also expanded Medisave use for outpatient treatments, including outpatient scans and chronic disease treatment. Singaporeans who are 65 years old and above have the flexibility to use up to $200 of Medisave every year to pay for their outpatient treatments at public healthcare institutions and participating CHAS GPs.

4 MediShield Life currently covers a number of costly outpatient treatments, such as kidney dialysis and chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Day surgery is also covered by MediShield Life and Medisave. Beyond government subsidies, Medishield Life and Medisave, Medifund assistance is available for low-income Singaporeans who require further financial support to pay their outpatient bills.

5 MOH will regularly review the scope of MediShield Life's coverage, but the focus should remain on protecting Singaporeans against large hospital bills. It is important to bear in mind that expansions in MediShield Life coverage will lead to higher premiums for all policyholders. With an ageing population, we need to carefully consider the trade-offs to ensure the scheme remains affordable and sustainable.

Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore