CPFB & MOH respond to man's plea to use CPF savings for wife's cancer treatment

The couple were informed that her condition was incurable and terminal.

Sulaiman Daud| July 13, 10:14 AM

The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the CPF Board (CPFB) released a joint statement on July 12 to clarify the allegations that CPFB refused a man's request to use his CPF savings to help pay for his wife's cancer treatment.

Lawyer M Ravi released a video on his YouTube channel, RAVision, on July 7.

In the video, married couple Suriia Das and Sarojini Jayapal talk about their struggle with Sarojini's condition.

Chose treatment at private hospital in hope of a cure

Sarojini was diagnosed with an "aggressive" case of ovarian cancer in December 2016.

She said she sought treatment from Mount Elizabeth (MEH), a private hospital, because it gave her "hope" that she could be cured.

Sarojini added that when they sought a second opinion from National University Hospital (NUH), the hospital allegedly told her husband to "bring her somewhere where she can be happy", which was taken to mean that NUH could not cure her condition.

So they had "no choice" but to return to MEH for further treatment.

MediSave funds "drained", can't use husband's CPF Ordinary and Special Accounts

The couple said that Sarojini's CPF account savings and both of their MediSave funds have been drained.

However, Suriia was allegedly not allowed to use the money in his Ordinary and Special Accounts to pay for his wife's treatment.

Couple informed that wife's illness is terminal and incurable

The joint statement said that it wanted to clarify the online stories that Sarojini was "forced" to seek treatment from MEH and Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC), and not NUH, as the former two medical institutions gave her hope that she could survive.

"To help his wife, Mr Suriia Das is appealing for his CPF retirement savings to be used for her medical expenses. It is important to make the following information public because of the misleading information that had been put out."

The statement explained that Sarojini has received treatment at Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) and MEH, both private institutions, since 2017:

"PCC has informed her and her husband that her cancer is not curable and her illness is terminal.

Mdm Sarojini had visited NUH in 2018 for a second opinion, and the NUH specialist's evaluation was her disease is not curable, similar to PCC's diagnosis."

It added that NUH offered them an open appointment date, should they choose to return for subsidised care.

No government subsidy for private treatment, but funds from treatment by other means

As both PCC and MEH are private, treatment there receives no government subsidy. However, the couple have raised funds for treatment through the following means:

  • Medishield Life and private insurance for S$300,000, covering close to 90 per cent of her bills at both MEH and PCC. Medishield Life alone paid out S$60,000.
  • ElderShield and supplement plans since October 2017, for S$23,000.
  • MediSave accounts for S$9,000.
  • Sarojini's CPF savings, the withdrawal approved by the CPFB as PCC deemed her terminally ill, for S$25,000.
  • CPFB's Home Protection Scheme also paid out S$186,500 to fully redeem her outstanding mortgage loan.

Subsidised treatment at NUH still available

The statement summarised that CPF-allowed insurance schemes paid out a total of S$510,000 to date for the couple, while S$34,000 has been withdrawn from both their CPF accounts.

It added that subsidised treatment at NUH is still available for the couple should they wish to make use of it:

"We empathise deeply with the difficulties the couple is facing. We have done all we can to extend support to them through various schemes since 2017.

We would like to emphasise again that subsidised care at NUH remains an option for the family. Should they face difficulties with their healthcare bills at NUH, they would be able to seek additional financial assistance from MediFund."

You can read the statement here, and see the Facebook post below:

Top image from RAVision's YouTube channel.