The Ministry of Health (MOH) has published a White Paper on "Healthier SG", a multi-year plan to transform the healthcare system in Singapore.
Under Healthier SG, residents will be strongly encouraged to choose and enrol with a family doctor.
The family doctor will serve as a first point-of-contact and will provide holistic care which will be focused on prevention and improved chronic care.
The family doctor will also build a stronger long-term relationship with the residents, explained MOH.
Under Healthier SG, residents will be given a choice as to which clinic they wish to enrol with, such as one near their home or workplace.
They can change their family doctor for up to four times upon the initial enrolment in the first two years. In the subsequent years, they will be able to do a switch only once a year.
This, according to MOH, will allow some flexibility for residents, taking into account changes in their life circumstances, such as moving into a new home at another location.
Those who do not wish to enrol under Healthier SG can remain with their already-existing healthcare professionals and plans. However, they will not be able to enjoy the benefits that come along with this new system.
Subsidies and benefits
Upon successful enrolment under Healthier SG, residents will enjoy these following benefits:
- Fully subsidised first face-to-face onboarding health consultation with family doctor
- Fully subsidised nationally recommended screenings and vaccinations for Singapore Citizens
- No need for cash co-payment when using MediSave for chronic care management
Residents will also have access to a new Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidy tier, under which prices for a whitelist of common chronic disease management drugs at their enrolled private family doctor clinic will be comparable with those at polyclinics.
Additionally, residents can enjoy rewards for enrolling and completing their first consultation with their enrolled family doctor and for leading active and healthy lifestyles, under the Health Promotion Board (HPB)'s health points system.
Once enrolled under Healthier SG, residents will be able develop a health plan with their family doctor and discuss how to improve their health.
How MOH will help doctors under Healthier SG
MOH has also worked with primary care leaders to develop 12 care protocols to guide the approach to screening and vaccination, as well as managing key chronic conditions.
More protocols will be co-developed over time, said MOH.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday (Sep. 21) morning, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said:
"As I said during the Committee of Supply speech earlier this year, there are five components to the Healthier SG plan. The first, which is absolutely critical, is to mobilise as many of our family doctors from private clinics to be part of Healthier SG.
They are all in the community and they are the important touch points of every resident if we want to practice preventive care in a concerted, strategic way."
For family doctors in private practice, MOH will pay them an annual service fee to care for and manage each enrolled resident.
The fee will be tiered based on the health risk profile of each enrolled resident, scope of required care and the progress made in terms of preventive care or chronic disease management.
MOH will also provide a one-off grant to Healthier SG family doctors for IT enablement to better serve their residents.
MOH is also working with community partners
Family doctors will be able to make social prescriptions, which are referrals to community partners, to support residents in leading healthier lives.
MOH said that Healthier SG will make it easier for residents to connect to the wide range of activities provided by its community partners, such as HPB, Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), People’s Association (PA) and Sport Singapore (SportSG).
These activities include aerobics, brisk walking, ball games, community gardening and cooking classes.
MOH will also provide additional support for seniors through its eldercare centres (EC).
The ministry is looking to expand the number of ECs from the current 119 to 220 by 2025, and will provide more services, such as connecting seniors with community programmes and helping them with monitoring vital signs.
How the enrolment works
Enrolment for Healthier SG will open to residents aged 60 years and above in the second half of 2023, followed by those in the 40-59 age group in the next two years.
Plans for the younger groups will be announced at a later date.
Those who are eligible will receive an SMS from MOH to enrol with a family doctor under Healthier SG.
To do so, they have to use HealthHub to choose their preferred clinic and schedule their first free health consultation.
There will be helplines and on-site support to help enrolment nearer date of implementation, MOH said.
Why Healthier SG?
According to MOH, Singapore's population is ageing quickly, with one in four expected to be 65 years and above by 2030.
As people get older, they are more likely to fall sick or suffer from chronic illnesses. The prevalence of chronic diseases has also risen over the years.
Putting age aside, MOH said that the prevalence of chronic diseases such as hypertension and hyperlipidaemia has risen to high levels, at 32 per cent and 37 percent of Singapore's population respectively.
These challenges will cause significant health, emotional and financial burden on individuals and families in the coming years.
Thus, MOH explained that the objective of Healthier SG is to prevent or delay the onset of ill health, and slow or even reverse the worrying health trends.
The full White Paper on Healthier SG can be accessed on MOH's website.
The White Paper has also been submitted to Parliament on Sep. 21 and will be debated in Parliament next month.
Top image via Tan Tock Seng Hospital/Facebook.