GOVT’S PIONEER GENERATION PACKAGE IS STINGY & FULL OF LITTLE CLAUSES TO STOP US FROM CLAIMING

AS A member of the pioneer generation, I was delighted when the Government announced a slew of benefits under the Pioneer Generation Package.

Last month, I went to see my Community Health Assist Scheme-registered dentist and paid only $25 out of a $70 bill. I left the dentist feeling that old age has its perks after all, thanks to a caring government. Any retiree will confirm that a dollar saved is a dollar earned.

My joy, however, turned to frustration this month when I went for my regular eye check-up at the Singapore National Eye Centre, where I have been seeing a particular specialist since 2011.

This time, when I asked if I could use my Pioneer Generation card, the reply was a polite but firm “no”. I was told that if I wanted the subsidy, I would have to “downgrade” and see a different specialist, or wait longer to see my specialist.

Fellow pioneers I have spoken to recalled that when the package was first announced, it was declared that age would be the sole criterion for subsidies, since it was to honour pioneers for their past contributions. It was also announced that we would be subsidised even when consulting specialists at government hospitals.

Now, we are told that not all specialists are equal.

At the National Skin Centre, I was told I would qualify for subsidies only if I had been referred by a polyclinic, was seeing a specialist on the second floor (my specialist was located on the third floor), and was prepared to wait for a longer time for my appointment.

Singaporeans have been urged to feel with their hearts and think with their heads. My heart welcomes the good intentions behind the pioneer package, but my head cannot understand why the good intentions are being thwarted in the implementation process. Can we be more gracious in honouring our pioneers?

Pang Cheng Lian

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