Thursday, 30 January 2014

Health-care costs biggest concern of PAP's new wing for seniors

By Goh Chin Lian, The Straits Times, 29 Jan 2014

MEMBERS of the PAP's new wing for seniors met for their first dialogue last night and came to a consensus that health-care costs are their biggest concern.

However, they differed on how best to set the qualifying criteria for the Government's planned Pioneer Generation Package to help seniors pay for the costs of health care.

The more than 100 PAP activists found that their views diverged over the cut-off age - 60, 65 or 70 - and whether income level should matter too.

As to what happens to someone who was, say, a day younger than the cut-off age, they also came up with varied ideas.

These include a tiered scheme of different packages for different generations, and an appeals committee made up of social sector representatives to decide on borderline cases.

The two-hour dialogue was the first on the package held by PAP.SG.

Details of the package are to be announced at the Budget next month. It is expected to help seniors who qualify offset higher premiums of the universal medical insurance scheme, MediShield Life, that protects against large hospital bills.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing, who led the dialogue, warned that the issue of who should qualify for this package could become contentious, and that would then detract from the purpose of the package to honour the pioneer generation.

He said: "If we quarrel over who gets more, who gets less, then we would have failed."

PAP.SG chairman Halimah Yacob, who is Speaker of Parliament, said most participants supported setting a baseline of support for all members of the pioneer generation, but that more help should go to those from the low-income group.

"We understand the millionaire and the cleaner should not be treated the same," she said.

Some activists were also concerned that the help should not be one-off, or else needy seniors would face difficulty in the subsequent years.

But Mr Chan noted that this concern should be balanced with ensuring the package was financially sustainable.

The participants also raised concerns about the social and emotional needs of seniors.

Gerontology expert Kalyani Mehta, one of the invited academics, cited seniors who may have many children but are neglected by them. She stressed the importance of understanding seniors' psychological needs for love, self worth and recognition.

Mr Chan noted that the community could play a part in meeting these needs. He also said seniors should not be seen as just people needing help but also people who can help other seniors and younger people.

They could do so through volunteer activities, which some participants discussed.

No comments:

Post a Comment