Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pioneer Generation Package


The Government has introduced the Pioneer Generation Package to honour and thank our pioneers for their hard work and dedication. They have made Singapore what it is today.

About 450,000 Singaporeans will benefit from the Pioneer Generation Package.

The package will help Pioneers with their healthcare costs for life.


Pioneer Generation Tribute

Our Singapore, the modern city which we are proud to call home, did not come without challenges and difficulties that our pioneers had to overcome. Our pioneers set Singapore on its path of development and transformed the lives of a whole population through their courage and resilience. We have achieved much in these 50 years of nation-building, and there is much for us to remember and learn from the values, spirit and shared aspirations of our Pioneer Generation, as we continue to chart our future ahead. SG50, beyond an occasion for celebrations, is also an opportune time for us to reflect together on our journey as a nation.

As we celebrate Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2015, it is thus timely to honour and thank our Pioneer Generation for their sacrifices, achievements and immense contributions to Singapore.

It was in this spirit that SG50 held its first event - the Pioneer Generation Tribute - at the Istana on 9 February 2014. At the event, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the Pioneer Generation Package that will help the Pioneer Generation in defraying their healthcare costs.


Pioneer Generation Package for CHAS

From 1 Sep 2014, all pioneer generation will be placed on CHAS. For those who are already on CHAS, they will be able to enjoy additional subsidies from 1 Sep 2014.

The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) is a scheme by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that enables Singapore Citizens from lower- and middle-income households to receive subsidies for medical and dental care at participating General Practitioners (GPs) and dental clinics near their homes. Singapore Citizens who qualify for CHAS will receive an individual blue or orange Health Assist card. Health Assist cardholders will also enjoy subsidised referrals to Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOCs) located at Public Hospitals or National Dental Centre when required.

For patients with chronic conditions, CHAS complements the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP), which allows for Medisave to be used for outpatient treatment (for the same set of chronic conditions) covered under CHAS. Besides enjoying CHAS subsidies for treatment of their chronic conditions, patients can also tap on their Medisave to defray part of the cost of these treatments. The Medisave withdrawal limit is $400 per Medisave account, per year.


More than 100,000 seniors have started using their Pioneer Generation cards

More than 100,000 seniors have started using their Pioneer Generation cards at participating general practitioners (GPs) and dental clinics since the subsidies were rolled out in September. About 85,000 of them used their PG cards at the GPs, while another 24,000 used their cards to visit a dentist.

Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Amy Khor gave this update on the sidelines of a dialogue session on the healthcare financing framework on Thursday evening (Oct 30).

Dr Khor also explained that low and middle income pioneers, who are already receiving subsidies with the PG card, should renew their CHAS card in order to qualify for higher subsidies. The CHAS card (Community Health Assist Scheme) allows these Singaporeans to seek medical and dental care at subsidised rates from participating clinics.

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Pioneer Generation package helps ease inflation to 7-month low
Healthcare costs in September rose at the slowest pace in close to three years, due to enhanced medical subsidies including the Pioneer Generation Package. PHOTO: ST

HEALTHCARE costs in September rose at the slowest pace in close to three years, due to enhanced medical subsidies including the Pioneer Generation Package. While this helped to push last month's headline and core inflation readings lower than expected, economists warn that other cost pressures still remain.

Consumer price inflation eased again in September - falling to a seven-month low of 0.6 per cent - as drops in housing and transport costs offset higher food prices.

The median forecast of 20 economists polled by Bloomberg before the Department of Statistics released the data on Thursday was for a 0.9 per cent year-on-year rise in the consumer price index (CPI) - the same as August's inflation rate.

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Pioneer Singaporeans get discounts, priority, special offers at NTUC supermarkets, outlets
NTUC secretary general Lim Swee Say (fourth from left) speaks to members of the pioneer generation having bread and coffee at NTUC Foodfare food court in Ang Mo Kio hub on Oct 13, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Pioneer generation Singaporeans will get discounts and preferential treatment among other benefits at NTUC supermarkets, pharmacies, food courts and other NTUC-linked outlets from now until the end of next year.

The 15-month "Pioneers OK!" package, an initiative by the labour movement's social enterprise arm, was launched by NTUC secretary general Lim Swee Say on Monday at a ceremony at the Ang Mo Kio hub.

The package features discounts on Mondays, priority queues and seating, a discounted personal accident insurance plan, and classes to learn how to use devices such as smart phones and tablets.


NTUC rolls out discounts and perks for pioneers

NTUC secretary general Lim Swee Say (extreme left) takes a photograph of a group of pioneers having bread and coffee at NTUC Foodfare food court in Ang Mo Kio Hub on Oct 13, 2014

Mondays just got better for Ms Lim Sui Cheng, 66. The private tutor yesterday received a 3 per cent discount on her groceries at NTUC FairPrice, under a new scheme to honour Singapore’s pioneer generation aged 65 and older. Her meals at NTUC Foodfare foodcourts will cost her 12 per cent less every Monday, while purchases of medicine and other items at NTUC Unity pharmacies will have a 6.5 per cent discount.

These discounts are on top of priority queues and seats marked out for pioneers like Ms Lim at nearly 200 NTUC-linked supermarkets, pharmacies, foodcourts and other outlets in Singapore.

This “Pioneers OK!” package, by the labour movement’s social enterprise arm called NTUC Enterprise, will last till the end of next year.


Sweetener for 'Pioneer Generation' to buy votes for the PAP as election nears
The Star Online, 1 Mar 2014

Recently announced healthcare measures could be targeting senior votes, which are badly needed to offset declining support from young Singaporeans.


The generation most loyal to the ruling party – and now wavering a little – is being wooed like never before. The government, faced with the eroding support of young Singaporeans, has launched its biggest healthcare initiative for the elderly to date. The S$8bil (RM20.7bil) plan under Budget 2014, to be spread over a period of years, aims at subsidising part of the rising healthcare costs of people who are aged 65 and above.


The timing of the Pioneer Package comes two years before the general election is due. It is termed the “mother of all elections” by some analysts because it is likely to be the most hotly contested and crucial election in modern times. It is imperative for PAP’s future that the health measures bring in the senior votes, which are badly needed to offset the dropping support of young Singaporeans. “It is obvious that the ruling party wants to consolidate or win back the estimated half a million senior votes,” said a political analyst. 
A forumer said: “This is sheer naked vote buying.” Full story

related:

PGP - truckloads of profit for healthcare institutions and insurance companies
The $8 Billion Con Job

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Pioneer subsidies: Not all specialists are equal

AS A member of the pioneer generation, I was delighted when the Government announced a slew of benefits under the Pioneer Generation PackageLast month, I went to see my Community Health Assist Scheme-registered dentist and paid only $25 out of a $70 bill. I left the dentist feeling that old age has its perks after all, thanks to a caring government. Any retiree will confirm that a dollar saved is a dollar earned.

My joy, however, turned to frustration this month when I went for my regular eye check-up at the Singapore National Eye Centre, where I have been seeing a particular specialist since 2011.

This time, when I asked if I could use my Pioneer Generation card, the reply was a polite but firm "no". I was told that if I wanted the subsidy, I would have to "downgrade" and see a different specialist, or wait longer to see my specialist.


New office to explain PGP – is it necessary?

More than a year after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong first announced that the government would be introducing the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP), a new Pioneer Generation Office (PGO) will be set up to help explain the scheme to those whom it hopes to benefit.

This also comes some 5 months after the news reported in April that the government “is undertaking the biggest public communications blitz in recent memory” to explain the PGP.

The PGO will include volunteers, described as “PG ambassadors”, who “will specialise in explaining details of the scheme”, reports the Sunday Times on 14 September.

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MOH: Pioneers must switch class to get SOC subsidies

As announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam during this year’s Budget, the Pioneer Generation Package includes additional subsidies for pioneers who are receiving subsidised services (“Pioneer subsidies: Not all specialists are equal” by Ms Pang Cheng Lian, last Wednesday; and “Scrap ‘different specialist rule’ ” by Mr Tommy Lee Kheng Huat, last Thursday).

Pioneers who are currently private patients, and who wish to enjoy the pioneer generation subsidies at Specialist Outpatient Clinics (SOCs), can ask to switch to the subsidised SOCs.
“…no longer be able to choose their doctors after they switch…”
While they will no longer be able to choose their doctors after they switch, the specialists they are currently seeing may be part of the teams which take over their care. All subsidised patients, including our pioneers, can be assured that they will continue to receive quality care from our teams of health-care professionals.

These additional subsidies for pioneers are over and above the subsidies that are available at the subsidised SOCs, which were increased from 50 per centto 60 per cent and 70 per cent for middle- and lower-income Singaporeans respectively from Sept 1.


GOOD INTENTIONS THWARTED IN IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS

As a member of the pioneer generation, I was delighted when the Government announced a slew of benefits under the Pioneer Generation Package.

Last month, I went to see my Community Health Assist Scheme-registered dentist and paid only $25 out of a $70 bill. I left the dentist feeling that old age has its perks after all, thanks to a caring government. Any retiree will confirm that a dollar saved is a dollar earned.

My joy, however, turned to frustration this month when I went for my regular eye check-up at the Singapore National Eye Centre, where I have been seeing a particular specialist since 2011.


NUH drags its feet when pioneer asks for PGP scheme

My father, my wife and I have been paying full rates to see an eye specialist at the National University Hospital (NUH) and I read in the newspapers that pioneers such as us can request a switch to the subsidised scheme.

When I made the request to the hospital on the phone, I was met with several hurdles. I was told to see the doctor personally or go to the hospital to fill in a form. I asked for the form to be posted to us, but this was refused. My experience is in stark contrast to the picture that has been painted.

Was it a communication breakdown between the Government and the NUH or were the staff just being unhelpful? If there are conditions to be met before we can switch to the subsidised scheme, the authority should make it clear, so that hopeful pioneers do not meet with disappointment later.

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Sharing the power of 老人卡/ Pioneer Generation Card
My Dad's first use

Total bill - $38.

Subsidy - 75% off $28.50

I pay - 25% $9.50

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Staff confusion muddles switch to pioneer scheme

I received a Health Ministry letter recently, about the Pioneer Generation benefits from Sept 1, and share the same frustration as voiced in the letter “Conditions for switch to pioneer scheme should be clarified” (Sept 13).

To enjoy the pioneer subsidy at specialist outpatient clinics, a private patient can contact the clinic for assistance to switch to subsidised care. So I went to the Singapore General Hospital on Friday.

At the pioneer scheme counter, I was given a Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) application form. Although I insisted that I was ineligible for CHAS, I was told I had to submit the application to enjoy the pioneer subsidy.

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Why some Pioneers are unhappy: Lack of clarity Delink Chas cards from Pioneer cards

Medical costs have gone up and so the government introduced the community health assist scheme (CHAS) for the lower and lower middle income group. Based on family income such Singaporeans are given an orange or a blue Chas card, blue more subsidy than orange.. Those carrying Chas cards are given a discount each time they visit their family doctor especially for chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure.

There are conditions attached depending on whether the case is simple or complex. So a blue Chas holder with say a simple one condition illness like high blood pressure can get an $80 subsidy per visit with a limit of $320 a year. Thus with 4 visits he would have used up his amount for the year. But it was still helpful for many. Complex cases get more subsidy and higher limit ,$120 per visit and $480 per year. My previous posting had a chart showing more details.

Many Chas holders belong to the Pioneer generation and there was full of high expectation on 1st September for this group because they were told of the benefits they are going to get when they receive the Pioneer card. It was all over the media and TV. So many postponed their clinic appointments to September to take advantage of the Pioneer card. Many clinics were packed on that September day with many pioneer generation patients. Pioneer card holders have higher subsidy per visit and higher limit of use per year than Chas card holders.

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Pioneer generation card overhyped – saved $3.20 only!

Pap gov even did a tranny tv ad to praise the PG card everyday. I thought it really will help the pioneer generation cope with the medical cost. But when I saw my mum’s medical bill for her regular checkup at poly clinic, I realize the card is overhyped.

Her medical bill is around $76. The PG card only gives her a miserable discount of $3.20, less than 5% discount. My mum told me the pg card only cover the consultation fee, not the prescription. So it is not a wonder card as what pinky had mentioned in the ndp rally.

If never cover medicine, what is the point of having this card? Another wayang kulit exercise?


THE SAD TRUTH ABOUT THE PIONEER GENERATION CARD

We have heard much and the hype on the Pioneer Generation card on the press and on TV that is used to help and thank our pioneers for their contributions by giving medical subsidiaries to the seniors. However is it really helpful, sincere and beneficial it just makes me wonder for now.

Based on 2 true accounts with my father, aged 68 and my father in-law aged 73, I take the Pioneer Generation card with a pinch of salt. My father who is a diabetes patient seeks medical consultation and follow-ups frequently, he noticed his routine checks-up per bill (same examination, same course) is around $37 each time, however just before the introduction of the Pioneer Generation senior card, his normal medical bill rose up to 100% to $74.

With this increased of his bill first and to every patient on the ground, then came the Pioneer Generation card kicked in for medical subsidiaries to the seniors. My father realized with the usage of the pioneer card now his bill returns to almost $37 again. Those who do not seek checks-up as frequent as my father, may not have noticed of the bill step up then the subsidiary (Pioneer card).

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SENIOR CITIZEN: I’M NOT BUYING THEIR PGP BULLSH*T!

The Sunday Times today carried the headline, “New Push to explain benefits for pioneers”. A new unit, the “Pioneer Generation Office” is being set up to coordinate and train “PG ambassadors”.

The unit which is funded by the Ministry of Finance but housed under the Peoples’ Association (PA) was revealed yesterday by PA Deputy Chairman Lim Swee Say on the sidelines of the aforesaid annual grassroots seminar.

There has been a phenomenal hard-sell on the PGP never seen before since its announcement in the 2014 budget review and I shall enumerate here the initiatives running up to the announcement yesterday of the set-up of the “Pioneer Generation Office”:


GOVT'S PIONEER GENERATION PACKAGE IS STINGY & FULL OF LITTLE CLAUSES TO STOP US FROM CLAIMING
Fellow pioneers I have spoken to recalled that when the package was first announced, it was declared that age would be the sole criterion for subsidies, since it was to honour pioneers for their past contributions. It was also announced that we would be subsidised even when consulting specialists at government hospitals.

Now, we are told that not all specialists are equal. At the National Skin Centre, I was told I would qualify for subsidies only if I had been referred by a polyclinic, was seeing a specialist on the second floor (my specialist was located on the third floor), and was prepared to wait for a longer time for my appointment.

Singaporeans have been urged to feel with their hearts and think with their heads. My heart welcomes the good intentions behind the pioneer package, but my head cannot understand why the good intentions are being thwarted in the implementation process. Can we be more gracious in honouring our pioneers?

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Full Coverage:
PGP Appeals Panel: We wont consider applicants who miss the age cut-off

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Support for the Needy and Elderly: 450,000 seniors eligible for Pioneer Generation Package
Mr Lee was speaking to about 1,500 Singaporeans who were invited to the Pioneer Generation Tribute Party at the Istana on Sunday morning

Mr Lee said the package will focus on healthcare benefits as the subject is at the top of the minds of older Singaporeans. He said the package will give extra financial support in three important areas.

The premiums for MediShield Life will be lower than that of MediShield for the pioneer generation, and the sums are being worked out. For outpatient treatment, they will enjoy extra subsidies at polyclinics, specialist outpatient clinics and general practitioners (GPs) under the Community Health Assist Scheme. They will also get annual top-ups to their Medisave accounts, which can help pay for MediShield Life premiums.