Medifund disbursed 23% more

I refer to the article “Medifund disbursed $160m for needy in FY2014” (Straits Times, Nov 26).

It states that “Close to $160 million was given out through Medifund to help needy patients in the last financial year, a 23 per cent increase on the previous one. About a third of the money, $52.4 million, went to people aged 65 and older.

900,000 outpatient applications can’t pay?

The close to 900,000 visits to outpatient clinics saw patients receive an average of $95 each.

Overall, there was a 30 per cent increase in Medifund use, such as for hospital admissions, outpatient clinic visits and stays in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes.”
More than a million can’t pay?

If we include other than outpatient clinics – including hospital admissions, stays in long-term care facilities, etc – does it mean that that total number of successful applications may be more than a million?
Pioneer Generation subsidies to reduce fees?

Since about 450,000 Pioneer Generation Singaporeans get additional subsidies to reduce their medical fees – why is it that apparently the number of successful applications from elderly Singaporeans has also increased by such a high percentage?

If they are paying much less in subsidized medical fees – why are there seemingly more people who can’t pay?

As to (Medifund is) to help poorer Singaporeans pay for medical treatment – specifically those unable to pay their bills, even after subsidies, insurance, Medisave and cash payments – don’t you find it rather alarming that for a first world country like Singapore – perhaps more than a milion applications were approved for Medifund, which comes in only after patients are unable to pay for Class C and B2 treatment in public hospitals – and after very stringent means testing under the criteria for Medifund?

Medifund criteria is secret?

Although the criteria for approving Medifund applications is secret – I understand that
– You get greater help if you contribute regularly to Medisave – “To encourage a greater sense of personal responsibility, Medifund will provide greater support to those who have contributed regularly to Medisave, but despite these have run into difficulties”
… You cannot be a Class A or B1 patient (which means that you cannot be referred for treatment by a private clinic as then you would not be eligible for Class C or B2 treatment). It does not matter that you may have ended up in B1 because there were no beds available or you couldn’t wait for months as a subsidised patient to get a diagnostic test, operation or treatment.
… You cannot be staying in a private property. It does not matter whether you are staying in a private property because the owner is kind enough to let you stay when you have no money and no assets yourself.
… All your immediate family members (for example if the patient is the father, this means the wife and all the children) must have exhausted all their Medisave account balances, subject to the Medisave eligibility and withdrawal limits
… You must not have more than a few thousand dollars in your bank accounts (the last I heard was around $4,000?)
… Certain medical treatments and drugs are not eligible for MediFund, or only 50% assistance
… B2 treatment may not be eligible for 100% assistance

Why can’t the basic criteria for Medifund be disclosed to the public?

We also understand that the Medifund quantum allocated to each Medifund-approved institution is different – which they may have to allocate accordingly to last the whole year?
Medifund success rate?

The Medifund applications success rate and the number of non-outpatient applications is not mentioned in the subject news report – “900,000 visits to outpatient clinics” may be quite meaningless, unless we know the patients (not applications) rejection rate, as well as those who may be told that they don’t even need to apply because they don’t meet one of the basic eligibility criteria.

Leong Sze Hian

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