The biggest surprise of the Budget 2014 speech actually wasn’t a “surprise.” No, I’m not talking about the vice taxes that have every drinker, smoker, and gambler in Singapore groaning – that really was a surprise. I’m talking about the Pioneer Generation package, which was actually hinted at weeks prior to the budget speech.
Unfortunately, the vice taxes got more media coverage compared to the Pioneer Generation package. Other than the fact that you already know the package is meant for the 450,000 people considered to be “first-generation” citizens (after Singapore gained independence in 1965), what exactly is the Pioneer Generation package?
The Pioneer Package Offers Lifetime Healthcare Subsidies, Discounts, and Top-ups
It’s no secret that Singapore is aging rapidly, and the “pioneer” generation of citizens that lived through Singapore’s “growing pains” is at or near retirement age. So when it comes to medical care, this is the cohort that will require it most over the next decade. In fact, the government has set aside about 8 billion dollars specifically for the package.
Here are the three components of the Pioneer Generation Package:
Top-ups to Medisave Accounts
To help the Pioneer Generation recipients deal with the increasing healthcare-related costs in the near future, the government is providing additional Medisave top-ups ranging from $200-$800 per year. The top-ups will be given to recipients starting August 2014.
The amount given depends on the recipient’s age:
- Those aged 65-69 years of age will receive $200 per year
- Those aged 70-74 will receive $400 per year
- Those aged 75-79 will receive $600 per year
- Those are 80+ will receive $800 per year
Subsidies for Outpatient Treatment
While the Medisave top-ups will do-doubt offer some financial relief to recipients, the bulk of Pioneer Generation package funds will be dedicated towards healthcare subsidies and discounts.
Care at Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOC) will be another major focus of the Pioneer Generation Package, with the government offering a combination of subsidies and discounts for recipients including:
|Monthly Household Income||Annual Value of Home (recipients w/out income)||Subsidy (1 Sept 2014)||Subsidy after further additional 50% discount off net bill|
|Up to $1,100||Up to $13,000||70%||85%|
Additionally, the Pioneer Generation Package will immediately place all members in the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) to provide further subsidies for recipients visiting SOCs and Polyclinics.
Recipients will also be able to take advantage of the Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme, which provides $1,200 annually to assist those with moderate to severe functional disabilities.
Note: The Ministry of Health (MOH) will review medication subsidies as well to see if they can be added to the Pioneer Generation Package.
Subsidies to MediShield Life
Recipients will receive a new special subsidy to their MediShield Life premiums that increases as they age.
While the details still need to be finalized by the MediShield Life Review Committee this year, the subsidies will range from 40% of a recipients premium at age 65 to 60% at age 90.
Who Qualifies As a Member of the Pioneer Generation?
That’s probably the biggest question on your mind. Thankfully, it’s an easy one to answer as the government is quite clear in this matter:
- Singapore citizens currently aged 65+ who were aged 16 and above in 1965 (meaning anyone born on or before 31 December, 1949)
- Individuals in the above age who gained citizenship on or before 31 December, 1986
Not sure if you qualify? You can check here to see if you do.
Final Note: Even if you just missed out on being part of the Pioneer Generation Package, some additional government assistance is still available. If you turn 55-64 years of age in 2014, you can still get a Medisave top-up of $100-$200 annually for the next five years.