Background of Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)
The Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) was started in 2000 by the Ministry of Health (MOH). Back then, the scheme was created to provide needy elderly and/or disabled Singaporeans with better access to primary healthcare by bringing affordable services closer to them. To do so, MOH engaged private general practitioners (GPs) and dentists to provide common outpatient medical and dental treatment to these patients at subsidised charges.
These patients were issued the Community Medical Benefits (CMB) cards. Singaporeans who were under the Public Assistance (PA) scheme were also automatically eligible for treatment under the scheme.
In 2009, the scheme was extended to cover more chronic conditions as well. With the extension, these patients could receive evidence-based treatment for both their acute and chronic diseases+ from the same GP.
What is Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)?
From January 2012, the scheme is enhanced with the broadening of eligibility criteria and the creation of 2 subsidy tiers. The qualifying age is lowered from 65 years old to 40 years old and the income criteria is raised from $800 to $1,500 per capita monthly household income. The 2 subsidy tiers created are the CHAS Subsidy Blue Tier and Orange Tier.
With the enhancement on 15 January 2012, CHAS aims to provide accessible and affordable primary care services to more Singaporeans. CHAS covers selected dental treatment, acute conditions and chronic diseases covered under the Chronic Disease Management Programme (CDMP).
Patients who qualify for CHAS receive subsidies when they visit a CHAS accredited clinic for their healthcare needs. CHAS complements CDMP which enables patients to use their Medisave for outpatient treatment of the chronic conditions. Patients are expected to co-pay for their treatment under CHAS.
With CHAS and other initiatives to come, we are another step closer to fulfilling our nation’s vision of “One Family Physician for every Singaporean”.
CHAS has been further enhanced from 1 Sep 2013 onwards. Please see the MOH press release for more information.
How does Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) work?
Patients who qualify for CHAS will receive subsidies when they visit a CHAS accredited clinic. They will be issued either the blue or orange Health Assist cards, depending on the subsidy tier they belong to. The Health Assist cards have a validity period of 2 years.
The existing Community Medical Benefits (CMB) and Public Assistance (PA) cards are still valid and are entitled for subsidies under the CHAS Subsidy Blue tier until the cards expire.
Table 1: CHAS Subsidy Tiers
Patients are expected to co-pay for their treatment under CHAS and clinics are encouraged to charge reasonably. For patients who are on Public Assistance, no payment will be required from them as the patient payable amount and subsidy will be reimbursed to the clinic.
For chronic patients, CHAS works in conjunction with CDMP. This means besides enjoying subsidies for their chronic disease treatments, they can also tap into their Medisave to defray part of the cost of these treatments. The Medisave withdrawal limit is $400 per Medisave account, per year.
To be eligible for government subvention under the CHAS, both the medical clinic and the GP providing medical treatment must be accredited under the “Medisave for CDMP”.
After the medical clinic has been accredited under the “Medisave for CDMP”, it will be invited to sign a CHAS agreement with the respective polyclinic to which the clinic has been assigned.
Accreditation and Registration for Medical Clinics
Clinics that are currently not yet CDMP accredited can jointly register for accreditation under the “Medisave for CDMP” and CHAS.
Clinics that are already CDMP accredited can sign up for CHAS whenever they are ready.
Once the clinic is CDMP accredited, the assigned polyclinic will contact the clinic to sign the CHAS agreement.
Accreditation of Doctors
Doctors providing treatment under CHAS must also be accredited under the “Medisave for CDMP”.
Accreditation and Registration for Dental Clinics
Dental clinics and dentists are not required to be CDMP accredited. As such, dental clinics can sign up for CHAS whenever they are ready.