GPs and Patients Calling for Drug Subsidy Scheme Expansion to Make Healthier SG Initiative More Appealing
More patients in Singapore might be encouraged to sign up for the Healthier SG initiative if the cost of more drugs are subsidised. More options on the list of available subsidised drugs would also help.
Some doctors in Singapore believe that subsidising drug costs would make patients find the Healthier SG scheme a lot more appealing. New resources are also needed to cope with the influx of patients wanting to enrol in clinics.
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Healthier SG is a national health programme offered by the Singapore Government. The initiative was launched with the idea that prevention is better than cure. The Government hopes to prevent its people from falling sick to begin with, thereby improving the overall health of the locals and those living in Singapore. Stronger bonds between patient-doctors as part of the programme is an added benefit.
Patients in Singapore are happy to switch over if the costs are comparable. Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has submitted the White Paper on Healthier SG Programme. Under this programme, Singaporeans choose who their family General Practitioner (GP) will be. This encourages them to keep up with their GP visits, who will be responsible for their health.
The Call for More Drugs and Higher Subsidies
MOH also plans to bring on board a new drug subsidy tier under this initiative. This proposal falls under the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas). Drugs that are helpful in managing chronic diseases will be on the list. Examples of this include drugs used to manage hypertension and diabetes. This way, private GPs can offer their patients prices comparable to that of polyclinics.
However, doctors are urging that drugs used to manage more chronic conditions should also be on the list. This includes conditions like allergic rhinitis, for example. Subsidies for other drugs must be increased too. This will help bridge the cost gap between private and polyclinics. For the initiative to succeed, this must be done.
If the cost of drugs becomes more affordable, more residents will be encouraged to visit their local GP. Better care and closer outcomes are beneficial to all. Patients do much better with a doctor they can trust instead of simply choosing the cheapest practitioner.
Enrolments Commence In the Second Half of 2023
Residents who are aged 60 and above will be eligible for enrolment in the programme. Enrollments will commence in the second half of 2023. Residents in the 40-49 age group will be able to follow suit two years later.
Clinics in Need of More Resources
For the Healthier SG initiative to be an overall success, more resources are required at clinics. When more patients come in, more doctors and nurses will be needed.
With the change in business model, resources will be required so GPs can meet the steady stream of regular patients under the initiative. The new funding that will be given under the Healthier SG initiative has been met with a positive response. There is no confirmation thus far on how much funding will be given.
The Bond Between Patients and Doctors
The final factor that determines the success of the Healthier SG initiative is the bond between patients and doctors. Affordable medication alone is sometimes not enough. Patients need to trust their doctor enough to open up about their issues. This can only be done when a patient has had a longstanding relationship with their doctor.
When there is somebody the patient knows, they will be more likely to trust their GP to walk them through their health. This is crucial in helping to prevent or manage diseases, especially when the GP knows your medical history.
Residents are more than happy to switch to the Healthier SG initiative, so long as the medication prices are the same as polyclinics.
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