Personal Finance

Guide To Subsidised Healthcare For Senior Citizens In Singapore

A long life expectancy for some of Singapore’s citizens – particularly those in lower-income households – can be a significant contributor to financial stress both on themselves and their children. Here are the grants, subsidies, and financial assistance schemes to defray the costs of healthcare needs for the elderly.

Key highlights

  • With the introduction of the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) and Merdeka Generation Package (MGP), the elderly are now eligible for all enhanced CHAS benefits – regardless of their household income.
  • CareShield Life and ElderFund can help defray the costs of taking care of a severely disabled senior citizen.
  • Those who require financial help to take care of a severely disabled senior citizen can apply for the Home Caregiving Grant (a monthly payout of S$200).
By 2030, it’s estimated that one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. This demographic shift places immense pressure on the Singaporean society as a shrinking workforce struggles to support an ageing population. The financial burden is particularly salient in the Sandwich Generation – individuals who need to support both their parents and children. In response to this mounting societal issue, the government has introduced a wide variety of grants, subsidies, and financial assistance to help make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the growing elderly population.

Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), Pioneer Generation Package (PGP), And Merdeka Generation Package (MGP) Help Offset Healthcare Costs

CHAS SubsidiesMerdeka GenerationPioneer Generation
Common IllnessesUp to S$23.50 subsidy per visitUp to S$28.50 subsidy per visit
Simple Selected Chronic ConditionsUp to S$85 subsidy per visit, capped at S$340 per yearUp to S$90 subsidy per visit, capped at S$360 per year
Complex Selected Chronic ConditionsUp to S$130 subsidy per visit, capped at S$520 per yearUp to S$135 subsidy per visit, capped at S$540 per year
Selected Dental ServicesUp to S$16 to S$261.50 subsidy per procedure (dependent on procedure)Up to S$21 to S$266.50 subsidy per procedure (dependent on procedure)
Recommended Health Screening under Screen for LifeA fixed fee of S$2 with Screen for Life invitation letterFree with Screen for Life invitation letter
Information obtained from CHAS, Singapore, accurate as of 10 Feb 2020. Subject to changes.

The Community Health Assistance Scheme (CHAS) was initially meant to alleviate medical and dental care costs at participating GPs and dental clinics for Singaporeans belonging in a lower-to-middle income household. However, due to the introduction of the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP)] and Merdeka Generation Package (MGP), the elderly are now eligible for all enhanced CHAS benefits – regardless of their household income. The Merdeka generation can receive up to up to S$28.50 subsidy per visit for common illnesses; up to S$135 subsidy per visit (capped at S$450) for selected complex chronic conditions, and up to S$21 to S$266.50 subsidy per procedure for selected dental services.

There are also other benefits that come with PGP and MGP, like additional subsidies on top of existing subsidised services and medication at polyclinics and Outpatient Clinics.

CareShield Life And ElderFund Defray Costs Of Daily Care For The Severely Disabled Elderly

The costs of severe disability in an elderly can snowball quickly, for reference: the average cost of nursing home fees in Singapore ranges from S$1,200 to S$3,500 a month, by no means a small sum for any family to fork out. To help defray the costs of long-term care for the severely disabled, those in need can tap into the CareShield Life and ElderFund. CareShield Life (previously known as ElderShield) is a type of long-term care insurance which provides lifetime cash payouts for the severely disabled. Monthly payouts will start at S$600/month and have a non-guaranteed increase of 2% annually until age 67. As for ElderFund, it’s an assistance scheme which provides up to S$250 a month in cash for severely disabled elderly.

For those who are not eligible for the above schemes when they were launched in 2002 because of pre-existing disabilities/exceeded the maximum entry age, there’s also the Interim Disability Assistance Programme For The Elderly (IDAPE). This programme offers S$250/S$150 monthly cash benefits, depending on the applicant's per capita monthly household income.

Home Caregiving Grant Reduces The Cost Of Help

For even more financial assistance for those caring for the elderly with disabilities, there is the Home Caregiving Grant. The grant – a monthly payout of S$200 – can be used to defray the costs of various caregiving expenses, such as the costs of eldercare and caregiver support services in the community or even the hiring of a Foreign Domestic Worker (FDW) for additional help around the household. That said, the care recipient must be deemed to always require some assistance with at least 3 Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and is not in a residential long-term care institution, like a nursing home.

Consider Enhancing Healthcare Coverage Where Possible

Here’s the truth: MediShield Life only provides basic coverage for the elderly. It is likely sufficient for more than 90% of Ward B2/C hospital bills. However, given the many complex health conditions the elderly grapple with, this basic health insurance plan may not be enough to cover the costs of better facilities or your desired choice of a healthcare team (i.e. doctors and specialists). Thus, it may be worth purchasing health insurance to enhance healthcare coverage.

Pooja Khandelwal

Pooja is a Content Marketing Lead at ValueChampion Singapore. She is responsible for planning and executing sponsored content projects and building relationships with media partners. In addition, she evaluates financial products for consumers based on quantitative and qualitative analysis. Pooja holds degrees in Economics and Psychology from Rutgers University. Her prior work experience includes founding and leading a content marketing consultancy and working at eCommerce, AI, and B2B SaaS startups in Singapore. Pooja has contributed insights to Tech in Asia, Yahoo!, and many other publications. Connect with her on LinkedIn to collaborate on content.

Comments and Questions