SINGAPORE, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has unveiled a package comprising mainly healthcare support for the country's pioneer generation, or those who have contributed to and witnessed the growth of the republic from its infancy, local media reported on Monday.
The special package of healthcare subsidies came as a gesture of gratitude for those aged 65 and older, or those who would have been at least 16 years old at Singapore's independence in 1965.
They also had to be citizens before 1987 to qualify for the package, which includes enhanced subsidies for outpatient treatment, additional annual Medisave top-ups and help with premiums for the new national insurance scheme, MediShield Life.
Most of the people in Singapore rely on savings in their CPF ( central provident fund) accounts, with the medical savings sub- account known as Medisave, to cover their healthcare spending.
Medishield is a basic insurance system covering major illnesses. Singapore has recently expanded it to cover the beneficiaries for life.
About 450,000 people are expected to benefit. More details will be announced in the budget speech on Feb. 21.
More than 1,000 of them were invited to an event at the Istana on Sunday where the prime minister paid tribute to their generation.
"Despite difficult times and the real danger of failure, you persevered, put Singapore first, and worked together to build our nation," he said.
Lee said that the generation started Singapore on the path of development, raised successive generations, and "taught us the values and spirit that enabled us to succeed."
Elaborating on the package, Lee said the benefits will be provided to the pioneers for the rest of their lives, with more given to those who are older.
Lee also assured older Singaporeans who do not meet the criteria that they will continue to be cared for in many other ways. He encouraged all Singaporeans to honor the seniors in their own way, adding that more events will be held for this purpose.