Hong Kong has a lot to learn from Singapore on caring for the elderly

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2016, 12:19am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2016, 8:48pm

I cannot agree more with Hailey Ng Pak-Yan (“We must help elderly feel part of society”, November 6).

One of the reasons why the elderly in our society feel so helpless today is most probably the lack of pensions from the government. In this regard, perhaps we can learn from the example of Singapore.

The Singapore government introduced the Pioneer Generation Package in 2014, with the aim of helping the elderly meet retirement adequacy.

As many as 450,000 Singaporeans will benefit from the package. This package ensures that Singapore citizens aged 16 and above in 1965 – that is, born on or before December 31, 1949, and aged 65 and above in 2014 – and who obtained citizenship on or before December 31, 1986, will be assisted with their health care costs for life.

For example, they will get an additional 50 per cent off subsidised services and medications at polyclinics and specialist outpatient clinics. They will enjoy subsidies at participating general practitioner and dental clinics under the community health assist scheme. There will also be S$1,200 (HK$6,485) in cash per year for those with moderate to severe functional disabilities under the Pioneer Generation Disability Assistance Scheme, which will benefit pioneers who permanently need assistance in at least three of the following activities of daily living: eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, toileting and walking or moving around.

As of November 1 last year, all permanent residents and Singaporeans are automatically covered under MediShield Life, which is a basic health insurance plan administered by the Central Provident Fund Board, to cover large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments, such as dialysis for kidney patients and chemotherapy for cancer sufferers.

Most importantly, the elderly will not lose the benefit of being covered under this scheme even if they cannot afford to pay the premiums. And this will greatly help lower-to-middle income families.

In Hong Kong, there is fruit money, which is granted to those aged 70 or above. However, if they are receiving other allowances, such as under the Social Security Allowance Scheme or Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, they are not eligible for it. I hope that the government of Hong Kong will learn from the example of Singapore.

Eunice Li Dan Yue, Causeway Bay