Healthcare subsidy rates for Permanent Residents (PRs) will be reduced to as much as half of what Singaporeans enjoy, announced the Ministry of Health on Wednesday.
The adjustment will affect patients in the Class B2 and C wards, day surgery and specialist outpatient clinics in restructured hospitals as well as intermediate and long-term care services.
Changes to the healthcare subsidies are implemented based on income group, with the lowest-income being the least affected.
PRs earning S$3,200 and below will get a subsidy cut of 5 percentage points from the current 60 per cent to 55 per cent from April next year. Citizens in the same income group enjoy a healthcare subsidy of 80 per cent.
On the other hand, PRs earning $5,201 and above will have their subsidies reduced from the current 45 per cent to 32.5 per cent. Citizens get subsidies of 65 per cent.
For the intermediate and long-term care sector, the subsidy adjustments will be implemented in the third quarter while changes in the restructured hospitals will be implemented in two phases -- in October this year and April next year -- to reduce the impact of the adjustments on PRs.
The ministry said that the change is to sharpen the distinction in the benefits received between citizens and PRs.
Yet, Singaporeans Yahoo! Singapore spoke to were doubtful of the subsidy change in distinguishing the privileges between a citizen and a PR.
Said 18-year-old Hansel Lo: “The magnitude of the change doesn’t really make a difference as long as whatever happens to the reduced amount spent on healthcare subsidies is spent elsewhere that benefits the society, for example, education.”
Pauline Chua, a 33-year-old housewife, echoed Lo’s views. “This doesn’t benefit anyone at all. [The government] should be decreasing the cost of healthcare for everyone, not cutting the subsidy for a group of people,” she said.
Instead of lowering the subsidies for PRs, the government should focus more on taking care of lower-income citizens by raising their subsidies further, she added.
Meanwhile, Michelle Ann Kwara, a student who has been a PR for four years, opined that the revision to the healthcare subsidy does not affect her “[since] the cut affects more of high-income PRs who are able to pay a bit more anyway”. She added that the revision is fair because citizens have the right to enjoy better subsidies.
Similarly, 21-year-old Olivia Wong agreed that it is “definitely understandable” that there should be a difference in the healthcare subsidies between citizens and PRs.
“However, I think the recent changes show too much of a gap. After all, as PRs, we pay the same amount of taxes and contribute to the economy too.”
Singapore’s government has to “listen, discern and decide” between competing views with regard to its workforce and manpower policies, said Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin. …