Dear ASS Editors,

At the fourth Healthcare Infrastructure Technology and Engineering conference, Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat spoke of the necessity for Singapore to do all it can to prevent rapid healthcare costs ( refer to The Straits Times report, ‘Prevent rapid rise in healthcare costs’; Wednesday.

I am glad that the Ministry of Health (MOH) is fully aware that rising medical costs is a valid concern of our ageing population, and hopefully the assurance from the newly appointed Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat to ensure that healthcare remains affordable will give our seniors much more peace of mind.

Today, another report in the same newspaper highlights how Health Minster Gan Kim Yong wants to make healthcare affordable in the report “Keeping S’pore healthy and boosting standards”; Thursday.

Although Medishield Life has been implemented to help Singaporeans with their medical bills, there is still more to be done to provide better coverage for our seniors who have little savings, cannot afford to purchase outriders and have no income.

Poor vision or vision loss among the elderly is a major healthcare problem and many of our seniors will require cataract operations once they hit 60 and beyond. The most common cause of vision loss among our elderly includes macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy.

A recent check with Tan Tock Seng Hospital revealed to my surprise that Medishield Life does not pay a single cent for cataract operations which cost $950 per eye.

To our seniors who have no steady monthly income and live all alone with no family support, $950 is a huge sum. Every month, with the cost of living skyrocketing, a senior in this group needs at least $400 a month for his/her meals and to pay the conservancy charges and PUB which are also going up. So to these seniors even a medical bill of $400 is a burden.

Our ministers and MPs will not be able to feel the pinch of rising medical costs because they are very well paid. But these politicians who were elected by the very people, who now require support, must never lose touch of the ground.

In any event, what is the point of paying Medishield Life year in and year out, in the years ahead when our seniors who contributed much to Singapore’s economic growth cannot have any peace of mind when vision is so important to their well being in their twilight years? More so when this group has little Medisave in their CPF accounts, which they will undoubtedly require for other ailments which is bound to come about due to old age. .

To this end, I appeal to MOH to relook at the payouts for Medishield Life on eye operations for seniors commencing from the age of 60.

A.S.S. Contributor

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