If you’ve ever attempted to apply for government subsidies in the past, then you would probably have already come across the term ‘means testing’ several times. But what exactly is it all about?
What is a household means test?
Essentially, a household mean-test is a framework used to determine the government subsidies a person is eligible for when you use care services in Singapore. This ensures that those with limited means such as lower-income families receive more subsidies than those from higher-income families as they are the ones who need it more.
Some of these subsidies include the Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) where seniors can get access to subsidised assistive devices and home healthcare items, the Home Caregiving Grant where families get a monthly cash payout to use for the care for their loved ones with moderate to severe disabilities, and the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) where Singaporeans will receive subsidies for all participating clinics.
While all Singaporeans are allowed to undergo household means-testing for subsidy application, most applicants come from lower-income households.
Who is eligible for subsidies?
To qualify for subsidies, applicants must:
- be a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident.
- meet the admission criteria.
- already be receiving care from an MOH-funded service provider.
Do take note that this does not automatically mean that you will receive subsidies. Other factors such as household income will be used to determine the schemes that you are eligible for and the amount of subsidy you will receive.
How is my subsidy level determined?
The level of subsidy you receive depends on the monthly household income per person.
Generally, monthly household income per person is calculated by taking the total gross monthly income of all family members in your household divided by the number of family members living together. This includes all family members living in the same residential address as stated in their NRIC, such as relatives related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption.
To determine the full extent of subsidy that one is entitled to, the household means-test must also consider the:
- Gross income of the person who needs care, his/her spouse (if any), and all family members living in the same household
- Total number of family members living in the same residence
Or, if the household does not have a source of income:
- Annual value of the place of residence
How much subsidy will I receive?
The amount of subsidies provided is largely dependent on your household means-test results and the particular financial scheme you applied for.
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Which financial schemes require means-testing?
Here are some of the healthcare schemes and subsidies that require means-testing:
- Home Caregiving Grant (HCG)
- Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS)
- Intermediate and Long Term Care (ILTC), Eldercare and Disability Subsidies
- Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) for Assistive Device and Consumables Subsidies
- Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) Assistive Device Subsidy
- Seniors’ Mobility and Enabling Fund (SMF) Consumables Subsidy
- Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS)
- Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) Transport Subsidy Scheme (VWOTS)
How do I apply?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply:
Approach any of the medical social workers at your nearby polyclinic or hospital, where they will assist you with the application for government subsidies through the National Means Testing Systems.
If the polyclinic or hospital already has your personal records and information in their system, the medical social workers can immediately assess your subsidies and eligibility rate.
If not, they will have to evaluate the applicant’s conditions, financial status, and family background before moving on with the application.
The staff will then assist you in completing the Means-Test Declaration Form and refer your application directly to the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC).After the form has been reviewed, successful applicants will be informed of the subsidies they are eligible for and will be briefed on the pre-admission preparation.
Other ways to defray your healthcare costs
If you don’t qualify for any of the government subsidies, there are still ways that you can save on various healthcare services.
Should you be thinking of engaging long-term home care services, Homage offers a wide range of home-based care services that can cover the full end-to-end care for specific conditions such as stroke, cancer, diabetes, and more. Here are some ways you can enjoy additional savings if you book with Homage!
Purchase longer-hour packages
If you are prepared to engage a large amount of hours to care for your loved one at home, the most cost-efficient way is to purchase long-hour packages which can save you up to $1,300! These packages will allow your loved one to receive holistic care that will help alleviate their specific conditions.
Take Gary’s case for example. His aged mother, Mdm Tan, recently had a bad fall and was required to go for a surgery. She’s now ready to be discharged from the hospital, but doctors have advised that Mdm Tan go for regular medical follow-up consultations for the next month as she will need to undergo certain nursing procedures to expedite Mdm Tan’s post-surgery recovery.
Mdm Tan doesn’t like going to the hospital and it takes a lot of persuading from Gary to be able to convince Mdm Tan to head to the hospital just for a check-up. Gary decided that it would take a huge mental load off him if his mother is able to get her check-ups done at home by nurses who are also able to administer other nursing procedures. Mdm Tan’s doctor has advised that she will need to do these regular check-ups for at least the next month. Knowing this, Gary decided to purchase the 80-hour ADL & Simple Nursing package with Homage and book appointments for Mdm Tan’s care ahead of time. This means that he can arrange for a nurse to care for Mdm Tan for 4 hours every weekday for the next month. Getting the package instead of the pay-as-you-go rate allows Gary to save a total of $420, and Mdm Tan will be able to receive holistic and specialised post-surgery care services which include:
- Activities of daily living (Feeding, transferring, toileting, etc)
- Companionship and personalised care
- Nursing care including wound care, catheter or feeding tube care
- Medical escort
Book weekday visits if possible
If you’d like to refrain from having to pay any additional costs, it is best to book your care visits on a weekday. Care visits falling on a weekend, weeknight and public holiday will incur additional charges as they are outside of regular working hours, thus it would be most ideal if you can arrange for care on a weekday instead.
Book visits longer than 2 hours
Avoid the short-hour surcharge by simply booking visits longer than 2 hours! Engaging a caregiver not only encourages interaction for your loved one; it also provides them with a strong emotional support and alleviates your caregiving worries as well. If you are struggling to cope with caring for a loved one, getting the help of a home caregiver or nurse for a longer duration can give you better peace of mind while you spend time caring for your own wellbeing.
Frequently Asked Questions
How are my savings and non-CPF investments calculated?
Under the admission criteria, the savings and non-CPF investments of applicants cannot exceed S$10,000—for those younger than 60 years old, and S$40,000—for those above 60 years old.
In order to calculate the following assets, you can add up the value in your bank account savings, overall value of shares in your Central Depository (CDP) account, and other investments with a cash value.
How long is the validity of the means test result?
All means test results are valid for two years. After that time period, applicants need to complete the household means-test again.
When should I apply for the means-test again?
Apart from the validity of your results expiring after two years, you should also apply again when:
- There is a change in the number of household members (e.g. a family member no longer staying in the household)
- The entire household moves to a new place and changes their residential address
- There have been notable changes in the overall household monthly income
- A household member turns 21 years old
What happens when I fail the means-test?
For applicants who fail the means-test, it is likely that they have the financial means to do without government subsidies. However, as long as you are staying in a subsidised ward in a community hospital, you remain eligible for a base subsidy of 20% for Singapore Citizens and 10% for Permanent Residents regardless of the result of your means-test.
If you would still like to appeal for higher subsidies despite the unsuccessful results, a detailed financial assessment will be done by your Medical Social Worker on top of the means-testing framework.
We could all use a helping hand and getting support with your finances is nothing to be ashamed of. With the slew of government subsidies available and a simple application process, Singaporean families do not have to worry about having to bear the full financial cost of healthcare and caregiving entirely on their own.
Learn more about the different financial schemes available in our financial guide for subsidies available for the elderly persons in Singapore.
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- Ministry of Health Singapore (n.d.). Subsidies for Government-funded Intermediate Long-Term Care Services. Retrieved February 7, 2021, from https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/healthcare-schemes-subsidies/subsidies-for-government-funded-intermediate-long-term-care-services/.