SINGAPORE, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Singapore's Health Ministry will extend the use of Medisave, a key component of the social safety net in the city state, to cover outpatient treatment of five more chronic conditions, it said on Thursday.
The extension, which covers chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis (degenerative joint diseases), benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate gland), anxiety, Parkinson's disease and nephritis/nephrosis (chronic kidney disease), will take effect starting from next year.
Chronic conditions currently covered under Medisave include diabetes mellitus, hypertension, lipid disorders, stroke, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, major depression, schizophrenia, dementia and bipolar disorder.
As part of an ongoing review, the use of Medisave will also be extended for certain vaccinations and outpatient screenings.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently said the government is going to have a shift in its approach to nation building, with measures including the strengthening of its social safety nets. In one of the key changes, the government is revamping the country's medical insurance system to move towards universal and life-long coverage.
The coverage of MediShield, which is a low-cost basic medical insurance scheme, will no longer stop for people who turn 90. It will also be expanded to include even those with pre-existing illnesses. The benefits will be increased so patients will pay less out of their own pockets.
The premiums will likely be higher, but Lee said the government will step in to help those who cannot afford it.