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Singapore sets new record for geriatric care

New Zealand, like many countries, has an ageing population, and declining proportion of children.

The burgeoning size and percentage of the elderly population as well as an ageing labour force have been a source of worry for the Government.

While the elderly need attention and care, the cost of such services including superannuation and healthcare continues to rise.

Likewise, the ageing population in Singapore is growing at an alarming rate, punctuated by low fertility rates and enhanced medical care.

Consequently, health care costs continue to rise for this segment of the population.

While Singapore is trying to encourage births, selective migration is in place to boost the resident population, but the perennial concern is how to provide affordable care for the elderly in the long term.

Budget Special

This year’s Budget presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (on February 21) was unique, focusing on citizens who helped Singapore grow since its independence in 1965.

Aside from strategies and incentives to support sustainable economic growth, Mr Shanmugaratnam emphasised the need to recognise this pioneering generation of citizens and honour their contributions.

Inability to cope with health issues, fear of being unable to tend for themselves and high medical costs have been the concern of the elderly population. On this score, Budget 2014 is a trend-setter.

Extensive package

What makes it singularly outstanding is that this elder-centric and pioneer-centric budget has been hailed as a unique method of financing social protection programmes for the aged with affordable health care.

Included in this package are Medisave top-ups, subsidies for the Medishield Life Insurance Scheme and subsidies for outpatient treatment to be funded with a whopping S$8 billion package to meet their healthcare needs for the rest of their lives.

While other countries are grappling with debt problems and resort to increased taxation to provide social security for the elderly, it is fortunate that Singapore has the resources to set aside for their protection.

About 450,000 elderly Singaporeans will benefit from this package.

The Government has also assured the public that this Pioneer Generation Package will not impose a burden on future taxpayers while there is a possibility that Singaporeans who are younger than the pioneer generation could enjoy similar packages in the future.

Dr V Subramaniam is our Singapore Correspondent

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