I (Ministry of Health, 2017) (Ministry of

       
I        
Introduction

After the separation from Malaysia in 1965, a
big part of Singapore’s rapid development to its current state is due to the
Pioneers’ contribution and perseverance in making Singapore a successful and
well-developed country. Introduced in 2014, the Pioneer Generation Package
(PGP) is the result of the Government’s gratitude and attempt to honour the
Pioneers for their contribution to the country. The Package consists of
healthcare and social support schemes to aid the aging Pioneers in reducing
burdens and concerns on healthcare. It covers approximately four hundred and
fifty thousand Singaporeans over a twenty-year period. Singaporeans citizens
only qualify if they are born before 1950, aged 65 and above in 2014, and
obtained citizenship before 1987. (Government of Singapore) (Ministry of Health, 2017) (Ministry of Finance, 2017) The purpose of this
report is to evaluate the Pioneer Generation Package and its effectiveness in
providing affordable healthcare to the Pioneers.

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II        
Overview of the Pioneer Generation Package

PGP helps Pioneers with their healthcare
costs for life. Pioneers have subsidies on outpatient care such as additional
fifty percent off on subsidised services and medications at Polyclinics and
Specialist Outpatient Clinics, have yearly MediSave additions of two hundred to
eight hundred dollars and obtain MediShield Life Premium. The Pioneer
Generation Disability Assistance Scheme (PioneerDAS) helps disabled Pioneers obtain
a hundred dollars in cash monthly, where it can be used for expenditures. To
qualify, the Pioneers must need permanent help with at least three of six ‘Activities
of Daily Living’, which include bathing, dressing, feeding, toileting, mobility
and transferring. Pioneers have to perform a functional assessment to confirm
that they need help with three or more Activities of Daily Living. (Singapore Silver
Pages, 2014)

A    
Prime Minister’s speech

At the Pioneer
Generation Tribute, 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked the Pioneers
present. He believed that the Pioneers “raised new generations of Singaporeans,
and taught us the values and spirit that enabled us to succeed”. Thus, Mr Lee specified
that the Package was “thought carefully and consulted widely about what would
be meaningful and helpful”, resulting in the focus on healthcare. It lessens
the burden on the children as medical charges are reduced, thus Pioneers are
able to save more for other necessities. (Ministry of Health, 2014)

    
III        
Evaluating the Package

A    
Necessity of the Package

Healthcare is
widely needed by Pioneers as their health to worsen due to aging. This hints
that more money will be spent on healthcare services and medicine. The schemes will
definitely help families lower healthcare related financial burdens. When
Pioneers are aware that these services are funded by the government, they would
feel more assured to seek for healthcare services. Furthermore, Pioneers under
the PioneerDAS will be able to receive a cash every month.

B    
Accessibility of the benefits by the Pioneers

The benefits
of PGP are widely accessible as most public healthcare facilities such as
specialist outpatient clinics and dental clinics are part of the Community
Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). The Pioneer Generation (PG) card can hence be used
at these participating clinics.

C    
The
Pioneer Generation Ambassadors

The Pioneer Generation Ambassadors (PGA) Programme was created where
volunteers personally reach out to Pioneers and their caretakers about the
benefits of the Package, MediShield Life and other associated support methods.
In 2014, the Ambassadors went door-to-door to raise awareness of PGP. According
to Channel News Asia, the Pioneer Generation Office (PGO) said that “as of June
this year (2017), 7 in 10 Singaporean seniors above 65-years-old have been
visited by Pioneer Generation Ambassadors in their homes”. (Junn, 2017) Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also indicated
that these volunteers are vital to the programme, and that it is hard to be a
PGA as training is needed to communicate and explain benefits, schemes and the usage
of the Package to the Pioneers. (gov.sg, 2017) (The Straits Times, 2015) As of 2017, there are over three thousand
practised and competent volunteers in the programme.

D    
Other ways that raised awareness of the
programme

To raise
awareness, there were mass media publicity efforts using print advertorials and
TV advertisements. Information booklets in four different languages were mailed
and given out with the PG cards. Engagement and outreach sessions were also
made with community partners such as the People’s Association and grassroot
organisations. Short and concise videos made in the four official languages and
dialects were showcased on TV and community events. The availability of
different languages helped the Pioneers to understand the Package better as
some of them may not know English. (Ministry of Finance, 2015) Clinics
participating in PGP and CHAS were also advised to display the subsidies
available to remind Pioneers of the benefits offered. (The Straits Times, 2017)

   
IV        
Effectiveness and success of the Package

Majority of the Pioneers were aware and felt
assured that the healthcare costs would be more affordable. The promotional
videos made were simple and informative, therefore effective in conveying
information. In 2015, over four hundred thousand Pioneers have received over
$700 million in healthcare benefits, and about three hundred thousand Pioneers
have benefitted from CHAS.

A    
Positive comments by the Prime Minister

In 2015, Mr
Lee said that the PGA’s hard work and dedication made Singapore a better home.
They uphold the spirit of voluntarism by reaching out to four hundred Pioneers
daily. They offer companionship to the Pioneers and look after their
well-being. Mr Lee launched a book containing stories of Pioneers compiled by
the Ambassadors and urge more Singaporeans to join the
program.   

B    
Issues surfaced about PGP

According to
The Straits Times, the Chief of Workers’ Party Low Thia Khiang, said “The
next issue that we would need to face is (that there are) people who are
younger, and not part of the pioneer generation” (The Straits Times, 2015), suggesting that he
thinks that the Package is not enough as some younger elders who are not part
of PGP might need the same healthcare benefits. The Package also neglects Accidents
& Emergency (A) departments in hospitals. Danam Raphael, 82, shared
that when he was admitted into A due to urination difficulties, the PG
card was invalid for usage. (Ministry
of Health, 2015) Additionally, Traditional Chinese Medicine
(TCM) is widely used and trusted by elderly, particularly when they get hurt or
sore. However, TCM is considered “complementary medicine”, making the PG card inapplicable.
(Ministry
of Health, 2014) The PGP also only covers healthcare. Hence, Lim
Kok Wee, a 73-year-old drink stall operator, showed his concerns that many of
his friends “have difficulty finding jobs as employers are not very willing to
hire old workers” and that “it is good that the Government is giving us such
benefits but maybe they can help us find some part-time job.” (Lim,
2014)

 

    
V        
Conclusion

This paper discussed the areas of healthcare
and social support schemes the Pioneer Generation Package covers. As well as
the methods used to convey and aid the Pioneers in understanding and using the
Pioneer Generation card with the help of Pioneer Generation Ambassadors.
Additionally, issues that can improve and strengthen the Package are also
brought up to better help elders in Singapore to achieve a better and healthier
lifestyle.

 

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Pioneer generation package?