The Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) was introduced in February with much fanfare at Budget 2014. Since then, we have been inundated with the spare-no-expense publicity tsunami, the most obnoxious being the mahjong game video which tarred our senior citizens as compulsive gamblers. A none too subtle excuse for why our CPF is not returned at age 55.
From June 16, letters were sent out to inform those who qualify for the PGP, supposedly to spell out clearly the lifetime benefits they will be entitled to.
In August, the first sign of the roll out of promises came in the form of Medisave top ups.
The PGP welcome pack was sent out in late August, which contains the key Pioneer Generation Card, to open the door for special subsidies at general practitioner (GP) and dental clinics under the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), polyclinics, and Specialist Outpatient Clinics.
Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor, and Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo were on hand at the PGP Taskforce production site on July 22 to check on the progress of the promotional material. Khor was clear with her mission: "We will also work closely with the grassroots and other groups, VWOs included, besides our frontline staff, to explain the package to them. The welcome pack is the PG card but the benefits itself, we will have to explain to them probably in more detail."
Someone else who had to be familiar with the details of the package was the prime minister who personally presented the PGP to some 200 elderly Singaporeans at the Teck Ghee Community Club on Saturday evening, August 30.
Come September 1, the pioneers trooped to the participating polyclinics and specialist outpatient clinics to enjoy the additional 50 per cent off subsidised services such as consultation and blood tests. Some, like 82 year old Ang, reportedly postponed treatment last week to take advantage of the subsidies, "My daughter wanted to bring me here on Friday as I was feverish, but I wanted to wait till today to get the discount."
Only to discover that the discount does not apply for prescribed drugs or medication, which comes into effect only from January 1. In non-clinical terms, batteries are not included. Hopefully, other PGP qualified senior citizens will not be rescheduling their medical appointments till January next year, or kick the bucket in the interim. As to why this little detail was not publicised, it's anybody's guess. One clue does come to mind: "What's wrong with collecting more money?"