Singapore govt to spend S$1b over next few years to set up national health scheme

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SINGAPORE, Oct 4 — The estimated set-up costs of an upcoming national programme to improve Singaporeans’ health is more than S$1 billion (RM3.25 billion) over the next three to four years, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told Parliament on Tuesday (Oct 4).

The funding will go towards new information technology (IT) systems, ground support capabilities and one-time support for general practitioners (GPs) to provide them with the necessary IT enhancements, Mr Ong added.

An additional S$400 million yearly will also go towards recurrent costs for the Healthier SG programme.

These costs include support measures for residents such as higher subsidies for drugs targeting common chronic diseases at GP clinics and the annual service fee for GPs, Mr Ong said.

And while the Government will do its best to relieve the administrative burden on GPs, it is inevitable that they will have to handle more paperwork as a result, said Mr Ong, who also provided a breakdown of what and how GPs will be paid for under the nation’s biggest healthcare reform in years.

“We estimate that in the coming few years, Healthier SG service fees and revenue from subsidised services can grow as more residents enrol and become a significant component of a GP’s annual revenue — maybe a quarter, or maybe a third.

“So hand on heart, MOH (the Ministry of Health) I think has always been a very fair and prompt as a service buyer, and I assure GPs that we will continue to be so,” said Mr Ong, who spoke during a debate on the programme’s White Paper in Parliament on Tuesday.

What is Healthier SG?

The Healthier SG programme was announced by Mr Ong during his ministry’s Committee of Supply debates in March this year, and will be rolled out from next year.

Under the proposal for Healthier SG, residents will, among other things, be encouraged to choose and enrol with a family doctor, who will then serve as a first point-of-contact to holistically manage their health.

Singapore citizens who have enrolled can then receive fully subsidised nationally recommended screenings and vaccinations.

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