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The Ministry of Health (MOH) has published a White Paper on “Healthier SG”, a multi-year plan to transform the healthcare system in Singapore.
Under Healthier SG, residents are strongly encouraged to choose a primary care physician and enroll.
The GP acts as the first point of contact and offers holistic care aimed at prevention and improvement of chronic care.
The GP will also build a stronger long-term relationship with the residents, MOH explains.
Under Healthier SG, residents can choose which clinic they want to register with, for example near their home or workplace.
They can change GPs up to four times in the first two years when they first register. In subsequent years, they can only switch once a year.
According to MOH, this gives residents some flexibility, taking into account changes in their living conditions, such as moving to a new home in a different location.
Those who do not wish to enroll under Healthier SG can stick with their pre-existing healthcare professionals and plans. However, they will not be able to enjoy the benefits of this new system.
Subsidies and benefits
Upon successful enrollment under Healthier SG, residents will enjoy these following benefits:
- Fully subsidized first face-to-face health consultation with GP
- Fully subsidized nationally recommended screenings and vaccinations for Singapore residents
- No additional cash payment required when using MediSave for chronic care management
Residents will also have access to a new Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) grant level, under which prices for a whitelist of common drugs for chronic disease in their registered private GP clinic will be comparable to those in outpatient clinics.
In addition, residents can enjoy rewards for enrolling and completing their initial consultation with their enrolled primary care physician and for leading an active and healthy lifestyle, according to the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) health point system.
Once enrolled under Healthier SG, residents can create a health plan with their GP and discuss how they can improve their health.
How MOH Will Help Physicians Under Healthier SG
MOH has also collaborated with primary care leaders to develop 12 care protocols to guide the approach to screening and vaccination, as well as the management of major chronic conditions.
More protocols will be developed over time, MOH said.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told media on Wednesday (September 21):
“As I said at the Supply Committee’s speech earlier this year, there are five components to the Healthier SG plan. The first, which is absolutely crucial, is to mobilize as many of our GPs from private clinics as possible to be a part of making Healthier SG.
They are all in the community and they are each resident’s key contact points if we are to deliver preventive care in a coordinated, strategic way.”
For GPs in private practice, MOH pays them an annual service fee to care for and administer each resident registered.
Compensation is differentiated based on the health risk profile of each enrolled resident, the extent of care required, and progress made in preventive care or chronic disease treatment.
MOH will also provide a one-time grant to healthier SG GPs for IT support to better serve their residents.
MOH also works with community partners
GPs will be able to create social prescriptions, which are referrals to community partners, to support residents in leading healthier lives.
MOH said Healthier SG will make it easier for residents to connect with the wide range of activities of its community partners such as HPB, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), People’s Association (PA) and Sport Singapore (SportSG).
These activities include aerobics, brisk walking, ball games, community gardening and cooking classes.
MOH will also provide additional support to seniors through its aged care centers (EC).
The ministry aims to increase the number of ECs from the current 119 to 220 by 2025, and will provide more services such as connecting seniors with community programs and helping them monitor vital signs.
How the registration works
Enrollment for Healthier SG will open in the second half of 2023 for residents aged 60 and over, followed by those aged 40-59 over the next two years.
The plans for the younger groups will be announced later.
Those who qualify will receive a text message from MOH to enroll with a primary care physician under Healthier SG.
To do this, they must use HealthHub to choose their preferred clinic and schedule their first free health consultation.
There will be helplines and on-site support to help move enrollment closer to implementation date, MOH said.
Why Healthier SG?
According to the MOH, Singapore’s population is aging rapidly, with one in four expected to be 65 or older by 2030.
As people age, they are more likely to get sick or suffer from chronic diseases. The prevalence of chronic diseases has also increased over the years.
Age aside, MOH said the prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension and hyperlipidemia has risen to a high level, affecting 32 percent and 37 percent of Singapore’s population, respectively.
These challenges will place significant health, emotional and financial burdens on individuals and families in the coming years.
That’s why MOH explained that the goal of Healthier SG is to prevent or delay the onset of ill health, and to slow down or even reverse worrisome health trends.
The full white paper on healthier SG can be found on the MOH website.
The White Paper was also submitted to Parliament on 21 September and will be discussed in Parliament next month.
Top image via Tan Tock Seng Hospital/Facebook.