Like the Pioneer Generation Package, I believe the Merdeka Generation Pack(MGP) is money well spent. When the Merdeka Generation citizens were in their working years, wages and salaries were significantly lower then. Education and other opportunities were considerably less than what our current generation has. For them, there was little opportunity to save enough for retirement especially with healthcare costs increasing at an alarming rate. Add this to greater longevity, it is clear that the Merdeka Generation’s savings for their retirement will fall short of what is needed.
Here is how the MGP will help reduce the burden of healthcare costs and help the ageing 500,000 citizens achieve healthy and active lives.
- Affordable access to primary healthcare is the foundation of healthy ageing. The MGP recipients will quality for subsidies for common illnesses, chronic conditions and dental procedures under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). Greater access to CHAS is important because it makes it more convenient for seniors to receive basic medical and dental care in their neighborhood. If they choose to go to a public polyclinic, MGP will provide an additional 25 per cent off medicine and services. The MGP subsidies will encourage seniors, especially those who suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, to see their doctors regularly to avoid more acute problems down the road.
- Many seniors worry about how they can afford it if they have to be hospitalised for surgery or other serious conditions – what we typically refer to as “acute care”. While Medishield Life offers the universal protection, the premium is a big burden for many especially those who do not have sufficient balances in their Medisave CPF account. Without subsidy, if you are 61-65 your Medishield Life annual premium is $755 — but this will almost double to $1430 when you are 84-85. The MGP helps with some of this – there is an additional 5% subsidy for your annual premiums, increasing to 10% after you turn 75 years old – this is on top of any subsidy that you may already be receiving. Since the premium is deducted from your MediSave, the MGP will also provide $200 top-up every July, from 2019 to 2023 to help with the premiums (I suspect that there will be enough left in the MGP fund to extend this support beyond 2023).
- Another important part of healthcare is long-term or disabled care. This is very important for seniors – as you grow older, there is a greater possibility that you will no longer be able to care for yourself. Eldershield and the yet to be launch Careshield Life provide protection against the uncertainty of long-term care costs if you become severely disabled. When launched in 2021, MGP will provide an additional $1,500 participation incentive(above what you are already entitled to) if you sign up for CareShield Life – which offers more than $600 per month payout if you are severely disabled. Make sure you sign up for Careshield – you have to opt-in and it is not automatic.
- The smallest token part of the MGP is related to “active ageing” – the one-off $100 top-up for your PAssion Silver Card. If you do not have one, you should get it. The PAssion Silver Concession Card offers seniors concessionary fares on public transport and a suite of merchant benefits and privileges.