20140222 Pioneer Generation Package – scoring political points without resolving REAL issues

The PAP has successfully distracted a large number of citizens temporarily from REAL issues with the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP). The mainstream media has also raised expectations that “450,000 Singaporeans aged 65 or older” will benefit tremendously.

Recall that in November we were informed of our unique approach to social assistance called the “kueh lapis” approach. link It is indeed unique – helps the vulnerable while allowing many to fall through the cracks at the same time.

On the PGP, our ‘kiam siap’, super calculative and short-term PAP leopard cannot change its spots. Here’s why:

Original image @ dreamstime.com

1 One fundamental issue lies with our national healthcare savings scheme, Medisave, which never came close to its objective of providing sufficient coverage. Every working Singaporean makes regular CPF contributions but where medical bills are concerned, we have the highest out-of-pocket expenses among developed countries. link Instead of a long term solution, planners have been engaged in continuous tweaking for decades.

2 Many Singaporeans have excess funds in their Medisave accounts to pay higher premiums for policies with lower/zero out-of-pocket expenses. However, the government disallows this without any logical explanation. Why Singaporeans still need to have tens of thousands in the Medisave account after they are dead remains a mystery.

3 The PGP would not be needed if our medical costs were truly affordable. It would then not cost the government an arm and a leg and could be provided f.o.c. to elderly citizens. Instead of tackling the issue of high medical costs, the PGP is introduced to mask this issue. This a short term approach.

4 With the introduction of Medishield Life next year, medical insurance premiums are set to increase by hundreds/thousands of dollars, depending on age bracket. The government has introduced the PGP to prepare Singaporeans for this increase by first tackling the most vulnerable group.

5 Take note the government has also said it will subsidise and not pay in full. link When premiums increase in future, the subsidies remain the same. We could end up in a situation where the subsidy is $$500 but the increase in premium amounts to $800. “The euphoria now is give and give and give by the govt. Wait for the take and take and take part to fall in place …” My Singapore News

6 The $8 billion ecstasy shot in the arm will require another, or more, because it did not take into account inflation. Taking an average lifespan of 20 years, this works out to $500 million per year or $1111 per person per year. In a high cost country like Singapore, the amount is really, really peanuts.

7 Most of the money again goes back into the CPF Medisave account where excess money is managed by GIC Pte Ltd, the government’s investment arm. Questions on GIC’s transparency have been raised but never sufficiently answered. What members fear most is huge investment losses may be covered up. UBS investment When government’s assistance schemes repeatedly channel money into the GIC through our CPF accounts, trust gets depleted.

8 Medishield is also managed by the government, operated by the CPF Board. MOH The government will be putting money into the Medisave account to pay for Medishield premiums ie. the government will be putting money into the government to help Singaporeans! Medishield premiums are currently low as they reflect a very low claimable amount.

9 When Medishield Life is implemented, premiums will go through the roof. Those not subsidised by the PGP will find the going to be even tougher. The intent of the government is clearly to prepare citizens for the huge increase in Medishield Life premiums by softening the blow to those in the oldest age brackets.

10 Insurance premiums are always adjusted (don’t ask a silly question like is it up or down ) and the $8 billion PGP has not taken this into account. No need for a rocket scientist to anticipate funding issues in future.

11 Minister Tharman said that “the pioneer generation will not be differentiated by income because our objective is to honour the contributions of this whole generation”. The issue of our pioneer generation was highlighted because thousands of elderly Singaporeans ended up as cardboard collectors and doing menial jobs like cleaners. Society feels that these are the people who should be helped. Instead, the government has reframed this issue into one where everyone should be honoured!

12 Question for Tharman: “Has the government asked 85 year old UOB’s Wee Cho Yaw and other TYCOONS if they are indeed honoured by such a package? Have these people not benefitted more-than-enough from Singapore? Aren’t the rich laughing at the peanuts they will receive from the PGP?

13 Minister Chan Chun Sing, better known as the ‘keechiu’ minister, tried to pull wool over citizens’ eyes. He said that “what the elderly would otherwise be spending on their healthcare can be used for other purposes like transport or even housing”. Let’s look at elderly Singaporeans who depend on government healthcare subsidies and do not have medical insurance:

– By providing them with a $1000 Medisave top-up to pay for Medishield premiums, it does not free up any money spent on health insurance for other purposes. They did not have any insurance to begin with.
– To put it in figures, zero plus $1000 (Medisave top up) minus $1000 (Medishield) = ZERO.

14 ‘Keechiu’ minister had also lectured students on values, telling them to “put values first, honour the elderly”. ST ‘Keechiu’ appears to think that providing menial jobs like cleaners at food courts and toilets for those in their 70s and 80s, are considered honouring them and good values. Perhaps the thousands of elderly Singaporeans have been invisible to him or he is a hypocrite.

15 Any increase in assistance provided by the government has always been at the expense of citizens. Eventually. Eg. when transport concessions are given, commuters will end up footing the bill. What’s worse, the government allows our profitable PTOs to increase their revenues by $53,500,000. ST

Conclusion

It is the state’s responsibility to take care of all citizens after we have made regular contributions to our medical savings. For decades, the government has abdicated its responsibility to provide sufficient healthcare for the elderly. It still insists on a ‘self reliant’ policy.

The PGP is an attempt to score political points and channels more money into the GIC through our CPF accounts. It also appears to be signaling to citizens an impending huge increase in insurance premiums after the introduction of Medishield Life in 2015.

Every assistance the government provides has always been at the expense of citizens. The PGP is no different.

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