Free health screenings, vaccinations among plans for those enrolled under Healthier SG initiative

Free health screenings, vaccinations among plans for those enrolled under Healthier SG initiative

SINGAPORE: As part of a new strategy to drive preventive healthcare for Singapore citizens, those who enrol with a family doctor could get fully subsidised recommended health screenings and vaccinations. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) submitted a White Paper on the Healthier SG strategy to Parliament on Wednesday (Sep 21) following a public engagement with residents, healthcare professionals, community partners, insurers and other stakeholders over the past six months. The White Paper will be debated in Parliament in October. 

The Healthier SG initiative, which aims to have citizens take charge of their own healthcare, involves having residents enrol with a single doctor, either a general practitioner (GP) or a polyclinic doctor, who will support residents in their health needs throughout their lives. 

Under the plan, residents who enrol in Healthier SG – which is voluntary – can schedule a face-to-face onboarding health consultation, which will be paid for by the Government. Residents will then develop health plans with their doctors, who will continue to monitor the resident’s progress via follow-ups.

Health plans will include an overview of the resident’s health status, medical needs and health goals and will be followed by an action plan, such as lifestyle adjustments or weight management.

On Wednesday Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told reporters the ministry had consulted thousands of people and taken into consideration feedback from GPs and residents to design the initiative.

Announced during MOH’s Committee of Supply Debate 2022 in March, Healthier SG will be open to those 60 and above – roughly 1 million people – to enrol in the second half of 2023. It will gradually be made available to those between 40 and 59 years old in the next two years. 

The strategy is part of the Government’s effort to tackle two main challenges – an ageing population and the rising impact of chronic disease – through preventive care. 

By 2030, one in four citizens is expected to be 65 and above, up from one in six today. Chronic diseases, such as hypertension and hyperlipidaemia, have risen to high levels, at 32 per cent and 37 per cent of the population respectively, said MOH.

The ministry noted that while people who visit a regular family doctor are generally healthier and have fewer visits to emergency departments and hospitals, only three in five Singaporeans have a regular family doctor. 

“We invite residents to go to a GP of your choice. You can choose one near your home. Choose one which is part of your panel of doctors in your company. And then commit to a one-resident, one-doctor or one-clinic relationship,” said Mr Ong.

He added that a lasting resident-doctor relationship was necessary for preventive care to work.

“Then the doctor will really know your conditions well, and better still know the conditions of your family well, and can do the necessary counselling, persuasion, nagging to help you keep to your health plan.”