From January next year, patients with complex chronic conditions such as diabetes, stroke and dementia can withdraw up to $700 from their Medisave accounts each year for their treatment, up from $500, said Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong yesterday.

But the higher limit is only for patients with two or more conditions under the Chronic Disease Management Plan (CDMP) or one CDMP condition with complications.

The limit stays at $500 for all other Medisave account holders, including those with only one CDMP condition without complications.

The new limits “increase flexibility for patients with complex chronic conditions, as they are likely to incur higher costs for their CDMP treatments”, Mr Tong said during the debate on his ministry’s budget.

He was replying to MPs such as Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) and Mr Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), who had called for greater flexibility in the Medisave withdrawal limits, especially for seniors with significant balances.

Another change he announced was that the withdrawal limit will be set according to per-patient basis instead of per-account basis.

This means a patient is eligible to withdraw only up to the $500 or $700 limit, regardless of how many family members’ accounts he had used for his treatment.

Previously, patients who tapped family members’ accounts could have their withdrawal limits raised, depending on the number of accounts they used.

Mr Tong said the changes are set to benefit 176,000 people, and his ministry is working to increase the flexibility of Medisave. One way is allowing Medisave savings to be used for more treatments and services.

Currently, it can be used for inpatient and day surgery at acute hospitals, outpatient treatment and some screening tests such as mammograms and colonoscopy.

Another potential move is letting people with severe disabilities withdraw cash, which is set to be part of the upcoming Medisave for Long-Term Care scheme. “With cash withdrawals, patients will also have greater flexibility to choose appropriate care options,” said Mr Tong.

Within schemes, patients are also benefiting from greater flexibility, he added, citing the lowering of the age threshold of the Flexi-Medi-save scheme in 2018 from 65 to 60.

The scheme lets these citizens withdraw up to $200 of Medisave each year to pay for outpatient treatments at public-sector specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics, among others.

“These enhancements are designed to strike a balance between current medical expenses and future healthcare needs,” he said.

Amrita Kaur