Opinion

National Day Rally Highlights: Money Issues to Pay Attention To (2013)

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Ryan Ong

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Every National Day rally, I can’t help but get teary-eyed and emotional. Do you know how irritating it is to squint at a 15 year old cathode-ray tube TV set? I can’t tell the flag from the Prime Minister (or a strawberry, if it was on screen). Good thing my ears are sharp, and picked up the following:

 

The Main Money Issues

If you want to know all the policy changes, you can find the full speech here. We’ll just be covering the money related issues.

The main ones to note so far are:

  • Conversion to MediShield Life
  • Changes to Community Health Assist
  • Edusave is Accessible to More Students
  • Greater HDB Flat Subsidies

Let me point out I had a flu while the speech was going on, and the snot’s barely congealed. It’s very recent is what I’m saying. So please take these as preliminary statements,

Follow us on Facebook, and we’ll update you on any effects as they occur.

 

1. Conversion to MediShield Life

 

Trishaw man elderly
Health insurance? They work past 60 and live past 90. They’re healthier than two other demographics combined.

 

MediShield’s being upgraded to MediShield Life. This change will make it a universal healthcare system.

Unlike the current system, MediShield Life will cover people who are past 90 years old, as well as people with pre-existing conditions (There’s no opting out). Now in a previous article, I mentioned that children born with medical conditions wreaked havoc on their parents’ Medisave. As I understand it, that’s no longer the case: MediShield Life covers everyone from birth to death.

(Again, “as I understand it”. I’ll make a note on this article once I get clear conformation.)

The downside to Medishield Life will be raised premiums. There’s no announcement on the rate hike yet, not until the Ministry of Health is done consulting the public. As for older Singaporeans (the “pioneer” group), subsidies will given to lower their premiums.

 

2. Changes to Community Health Assist

 

Colourful pills
I have an acute case of poverty. Can you cure THAT?

 

The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) is a medical subsidy for low-income families. It’s used to subsidise outpatient and select dental treatments, for families with a household income of $1,500 or below.

Two big changes are happening here:

First, it no longer applies only to citizens who are 40 and above. Thank God. We’re no longer patting 25 year olds on the back and saying “Yank that bad tooth with our pliers; you’re young, you can take it.

Second, subsidies are being raised for some people under CHAS. This is subject to means testing, but goes up to a 50% subsidy.

 

3. Edusave is Accessible to More Students

Edusave is a fund for students; it pays for stuff like enrichment programmes, special student resources, etc.

The scheme has now been expanded to include madrasah students, the home schooled, and students studying abroad. This could take some of the pressure off parents.

 

4. Greater HDB Flat Subsidies

 

HDB flats
“And all we had to do to meet budget was take out the lifts. Now take this rope.”

 

The Special Housing Grant (SHG) provides up to $20,000 in subsidies, for 2 and 3-room HDB flats. Previously, this was only available to buyers with an average household income of $2,250 or less.

The SHG will now be raised to cover middle-income households (no details just yet), and will also apply to 4-room HDB flats.

The other issue raised was the de-linking of BTO flat prices from resale flat prices. Unlike the past, HDB flat prices will no longer be based on prices in the resale market. This ensures that new flats stay affordable; but it also means flats on the resale market won’t appreciate as fast as they used.

 

Everything’s Still Raw…

Over the next few days, we’ll take a deeper look at each of these issues. In the meantime, all we have is (limited) information on the ground.

Stay with us, as we harass any number of experts to give us more insight into each category.

 

Image Credits:
beggs, williamcho, e-Magineart.com, Thant Zin Myint

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.