SPEECH BY ER DR LEE BEE WAH, MP FOR NEE SOON GRC, AT THE SECOND READING OF THE CARESHIELD LIFE AND LONG-TERM CARE BILL IN PARLIAMENT
Mr Speaker Sir
The average lifespan of Singaporeans is on the rise. According to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, average lifespan would be 85.4 years in 2040. But the number of years spent in poor health would also correspondingly increase. The government has been enhancing policies and investing in resources to promote active, healthy living among Singaporeans. This should help to prolong the duration of healthy years.
On this note, I would like to thank HPB for bringing in all kinds of exercises. Zumba, stretch bands, Yoga, etc, free of charge to our community , all the parks, pavilions and condominiums. And the residents not just keep themselves healthy, in the process, they also increased their bonding. I have residents go exercise together, and later, they arranged overseas trips together. 1 day Batam trip, 3 days Malacca trip, etc.
Nevertheless, chronic health and mobility problems are inevitable for most who are in old age. It is important therefore for one to be self-sufficient. This is especially when one is retired or unable to work.
Looking at current global trends, more people are likely to stay single or choose not to have children, so relying on the younger generations for financial support is not always an option. In fact, those who have children would typically not wish to burden them. Hence, we have CareShield Life to help Singaporeans be self-sufficient with the support from the government. Moreover, it is not only the elderly who may find themselves with mobility impairment. Younger people too may require long-term care due to illness or accidents. Hence, it is a good move to have citizens and permanent residents automatically enrolled into the scheme once they reach 30 years old.
I note that for those born before 1970 will not be automatically enrolled and those born from 1970 to 1979 only automatically enrolled under certain conditions.
My question is: How many would not qualify for automatic enrolment, and how would we get them onboard? This is quite worrying because some within this group would be those who do not have ElderShield or any forms of insurance coverage. There are additional subsidies for Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation citizens. However, I have spoken to older residents, and they are unmoved by the subsidies. They are retired, or do not have a full-time job, and the idea of having to commit a sum of money each month to an intangible concept is daunting to them.
Unfortunately, many healthy, mobile people have the “it will never happen to me” mentality so they do not see the necessity of making a small investment to insure themselves against possible severe disability. In fact, there is a sizeable percentage of young people, adults included, who still do not understand how Medishield works. And, they would only call up CPF to ask for clarifications when they are hospitalised.
So, when one does not understand the full benefits of a scheme, they are far less likely to put faith and their money in it. We have to go beyond subsidies to encourage a wider take up rate. Otherwise, the people who stand to benefit most from the scheme will be left out. Thus hopefully the Ministry would have some education campaign to reach out to this group to explain the different scheme, so that people can fully understand the schemes, and benefit from it when they need them.
In Chinese please. 终身护保将照顾不幸残障的国人。但是，1970年以前出生的国人并没有自动加入，1970年到1979年生的国人也必须符合某些条件才能自动加入。我们要如何鼓励这些人加入呢？
Sir, I support this Bill.
Watch the speech here
Watch the response by MOH here