Dedicated doctors, free health screenings, subsidised costs: What the Healthier SG enrolment programme means for Singaporeans
The enrolment will commence in the second half of 2023, starting with residents aged 60 and above.
Singapore residents can expect dedicated doctors, free selected health screenings and subsidised costs, should they choose to register for the national Healthier SG enrolment programme set to commence in the second half of 2023.
This was announced by Minister for Health Mr Ong Ye Kung, who defined several aspects of the enrolment in his opening speech of the Healthier SG White Paper Debate on Tuesday (Oct 4).
According to the White Paper on Healthier SG, published on Sep 21, the enrolment will first be open to residents aged 60 and above, followed by those in the 40 to 59 age group in the next two years.
The Healthier SG Strategy is a long-term, multi-year strategy to empower Singapore residents to become healthier and improve their quality of life.
The enrolment programme exercise is one of five key features of the Healthier SG Strategy. The rest comprise the mobilisation of family doctors, developing health plans, activating community partners and setting up key enablers such as IT, manpower and finance.
It also cites the reasons behind the need for the strategy, such as an ageing population, the prevalence of chronic diseases and how preventative health is important to living long and well.
In his opening speech, Mr Ong addressed several aspects and benefits of enrolling in the programme.
The White Paper on Healthier SG lists various benefits for individuals who are committed to a family doctor, such as being generally healthy and having fewer visits to hospitals and emergency departments.
Mr Ong stressed on how enrolling with a dedicated family doctor to residents is a critical first step to staying healthy and preventing any existing illnesses from worsening.
He said: “Research has shown that people with a dedicated family doctor are much less likely to develop serious illnesses.”
Mr Ong further emphasised how the enrolment process will prioritise the doctor that residents regularly visit and that the enrolment will take place in stages to manage demand.
The White Paper infographic also details how residents can enrol for the programme. Residents will first receive an SMS by the Ministry of Health to enrol. They can proceed to the HealthHub app to choose their preferred clinic and schedule their first free health consultation.
Fully funded health check-ins
Mr Ong further explained various important aspects of preventative care, the second area of support upon enrolment.
Fully funded by the Government, residents can expect free annual preventative health care check-ins including nationally recommended Influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations and health screenings.
The screenings will cover three “very common” chronic conditions: type 2 diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidaemia and three cancers: breast, cervical and colorectal. These screenings are also free.
Residents who require more complex screenings may be referred for further tests which may not be free, but will continue to be heavily subsidised at hospitals.
The enrolment’s third aspect will see residents being able to fully use their Medisave to pay for the treatment of their chronic illnesses. Residents will no longer be required to co-pay 15 per cent of the bill with cash, intended to “reflect sharing of responsibility and uphold the concept of individual effort”.
The Government will also enhance the subsidy for common chronic disease drugs at private GP clinics. An additional subsidy tier to the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will be provided to “level the price difference” for common chronic drugs.
On top of Singaporean CHAS card holders, Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation card holders will also be privy to this subsidy.
Outside of enrolment
Mr Ong mentioned how residents can adopt and sustain a healthy lifestyle outside of their doctor visits by partaking in community lifestyle activities and awarding health points to users of the Healthy 365 mobile app.
Organisations such as the People’s Association, SportSG and the Health Promotion Board (HPB) will hold more health-related activities for residents, such as ball games and Zumba classes.
With the Healthy 365 app, users are awarded with “Health points” by tracking the user’s heart rate as they perform physical activities. These points can then be exchanged for rewards for public transport and participating merchants.
The mobile application will also undergo several enhancements.
One new feature is helping users track their calorie intake. Users can take a picture of their meal where the app will match it against the user’s database of different foods and their calories.
Another enhancement is improved compatibility with digital health apps such as the Apple Health Kit, Fitbit and Samsung Health. Lifestyle data from these apps can be used by the Healthy 365 to help users claim health points.