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by February 23, 2019 Industry

We refer to Ms Salma Khalik’s commentary (Think through subsidy issue of CHAS patients referred for polyclinic tests, Feb 15) and subsequent letters on this issue (GP-polyclinic tie-up will benefit all, by Dr Ho Ting Fei, Feb 19; Case of lack of subsidy for CHAS patient raises questions, by Mr Lim Ang Yong, Feb 19; and GPs, polyclinic doctors want good outcomes for patients, by Dr Yik Keng Yeong, Feb 19).

General practitioners (GPs) play an important role in our healthcare system in providing effective and quality primary care.

They work with our public healthcare institutions to serve the needs of our patients.

To anchor chronic disease management in the community, we have worked with GPs through Primary Care Networks and other initiatives to deliver holistic and team-based care.

With the expansion of the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) announced in Budget 2019, participating GPs will now be able to offer subsidised care to all Singaporeans with chronic conditions.

CHAS subsidies help to lower the cost of private GP services. They can be used for doctor consultations, medication, as well as investigations.

CHAS GP clinics can refer their patients to private laboratories for investigative services, such as blood tests and X-rays, and then submit the bill for CHAS subsidy claims.

Polyclinic diagnostic services are resourced to support mainly polyclinic patients, and GP patients who seek such services are charged as private patients.

The reasons GP patients do this vary, and they include employment or insurance-related matters.

Providing CHAS subsidies for patients visiting a CHAS doctor, and polyclinic subsidies for those visiting a polyclinic doctor, helps to ensure that Government subsidies are extended to where care is necessary and appropriate.

The Ministry of Health will review how we can better support CHAS GPs and patients by providing easier access to subsidised services.

We will also review CHAS regularly to ensure that the scheme continues to provide Singaporeans with access to affordable and quality primary care in the community.