SINGAPORE — The Government will offer free health screenings for six types of chronic conditions and cancers for eligible Singapore residents who enrol to be tied with a fixed family doctor under the national Healthier SG programme.
Residents may also continue visiting other doctors, including specialists who may already be taking care of their chronic illnesses.
Mr Ong acknowledged that some residents are worried that their regular GP clinic may get too crowded.
Residents will be prompted in an online system when registering to enrol with the doctor they now regularly visit, with that doctor being at the top of a drop-down list, Mr Ong said, with details expected to come later.
The Government is working with the polyclinics and GP networks to find out who their regular patients are.
“We will try our best to manage this,” Mr Ong added. “We are also doing enrolment in stages so that enrolment demand will not (become), overnight, so overwhelming.
“You may also want to enrol early when the time comes to ‘chope’ (reserve) your regular GP.”
MEDISAVE FOR CHRONIC ILLNESSES
Residents who are using MediSave from the Central Provident Fund, a national medical savings scheme, to pay for treatment of chronic illnesses will no longer need to co-pay 15 per cent of the bill with cash, Mr Ong said.
He acknowledged that this was “somewhat a departure” from most government subsidy schemes where some co-payment is required to reflect a sharing of responsibility and uphold the concept of individual effort.
“Here, we decided that since preventive care is very fundamental to healthcare, further subsidy is justified,” he added.
“It does not contradict the principle of personal responsibility, because in the context of preventive care, personal responsibility and actions are needed to make changes and lead a healthier life.”
PROMOTING ACTIVE LIFESTYLES
Beyond strengthening the relationship between patients and family doctors, an important component of the new healthcare reform will be to promote and support healthy lifestyles.
The existing Healthy 365 app, which will be improved, awards points to users who track their activities using fitness trackers and buy healthier food options.
These points can then be used to redeem vouchers and rewards that can be spent on public transport, supermarkets and other merchants.
Mr Ong said that the Government has also roped in community partners and government agencies such as the People’s Association, Sport Singapore and the Health Promotion Board to organise more health-related activities including ball games, brisk-walking, Zumba classes and community gardening.
Sports facilities, parks, park connectors and other public infrastructure will be improved as well, he added.
The Healthier SG strategy was first announced in Parliament during the debate on the Ministry of Health’s budget in March.
The reform was driven by the rapidly ageing population here as well as with lessons in preventive care learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic.
It aims to shift the bulk of healthcare from hospitals to the community, and to allow residents to take charge of their own health through a better relationship with their family doctors.