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Home > News & Events > Inaccurate CHAS subsidies disbursed due to error in means-test system

Inaccurate CHAS subsidies disbursed due to error in means-test system

Press Release 

 

1. Arising from an error in the computer system administered by NCS Pte Ltd (NCS) to calculate means-test results, about 7,700 (or about 17% of) individuals whose Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) card applications and renewals were processed from 18 September to 10 October 2018 received inaccurate healthcare and intermediate and long term care subsidies1. The means-test and subsidy tiers for all affected individuals have been corrected by 16 February 2019.  

   

2. No proactive action is required on the part of the affected persons at this point. The Ministry of Health (MOH) is working closely with healthcare service providers and scheme administrators to reach out to them. About 1,300 individuals who received lower subsidies will have the difference reimbursed to them. Another 6,400 individuals received higher subsidies due to the error but will not need to return the additional subsidies disbursed.  

   

Error Due to Software Version Issue on a Server  

 

3. The means-test system calculates the healthcare subsidies which individuals are eligible for, based on their income information. Healthcare subsidies are means-tested so that greater financial support is extended to lower income households.  

   

4. The first case of discrepancy in the means-test results of a CHAS cardholder was detected by the CHAS processing team on 24 September 2018 and NCS was alerted immediately. The issue was initially attributed to intermittent network connection problems. Five more cases were subsequently detected between 9 October and 2 November 2018, and a more thorough investigation was initiated.  

   

5. In late November, NCS traced the root cause of the discrepancies to a software version issue on a server2 used by the means-test system when it was migrated to another government data centre in September. This resulted in the means-test results being computed without the requisite income information. NCS further discovered that their deployment team had in fact fixed the software version issue earlier on 10 October 2018 in response to an unrelated slow performance issue. This stopped further cases of errors but it did not correct the means-test results that had been generated from 18 September to 10 October 2018.  

 

Affected Persons Will Be Informed; Reimbursement to Be Arranged  

 

6. From December, MOH worked with NCS to establish the extent of the impact, including the correct subsidy tiers for each individual under the different services and schemes. This was to determine who could have received higher or lower subsidies than what they were eligible for.  

   

7. The final assessment was completed on 14 January 2019, and MOH worked with grant scheme administrators and healthcare institutions to finalise the remedial action plans, including how affected individuals will be informed and reimbursed.  

   

8. The correct subsidy tiers of all affected individuals were restored by 16 February 2019. Service providers and scheme administrators will now progressively inform the affected individuals and arrange for reimbursements where applicable. We expect all the affected individuals to be informed by mid-March 2019.  

   

9. Please refer to Annex A for the detailed chronology and Annex B for the remedial action plan.  

   

Actions to Prevent Recurrence  

 

10. NCS has acknowledged the error, and has taken further remedial action by tightening the system deployment processes. Additional safeguards have been put in place to prevent any recurrence of such incidents. NCS has reiterated its commitment to being held to the highest standards as a service provider.  

   

11. MOH takes a serious view of the incident, and has worked with NCS on appropriate remedial measures. MOH will work with NCS on measures to prevent such errors in the future.  

   

MINISTRY OF HEALTH  

16 FEBRUARY 2019  

   

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1 The affected subsidies are for Community Health Assistance Scheme (CHAS); specialist outpatient clinic (SOC) and drug subsidies at public healthcare institutions; MediShield Life premium subsidies; subsidies and grants for intermediate and long term care services (such as community hospitals, nursing homes, disability homes, day and home care) and disability assistance schemes.  

2 One of the files in one production server was not the correct version.