Some mental illnesses added to Medisave chronic diseases list

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Minister of Health Khaw Boon Wan has allowed depression and schizophrenia to be added to the list of chronic illnesses managed under the Chronic Diseases Management Programme (CDMP). The list currently includes six diseases – diabetes mellitus, asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidemia (lipid disorders including high cholesterol problems), stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). CDMP allows patients to get outpatient treatment from their general practitioners (GPs) (usually a family physician) and have the fees paid from their Medisave accounts.

This was announced by Mr Khaw in Parliament in reply to requests for Medisave liberalization by several MPs including Madam Halimah Yacob who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health. However, he added that the treatments must be within a yet-to-be-defined framework which will involve psychiatrists and general practitioners (GPs). The framework will be ready before October 2009.

Mr Khaw reminded Members of the House of the original purpose of Medisave – to pay for costly hospital care. He also reiterated his reservations on extending Medisave to mental ailments due to the lack of consensus among psychiatrists on the proper treatments. In allowing the two conditions to come under the CDMP scheme, Mr Khaw noted that they affected the bulk of the mentally ill.