In an attempt to enhance the primary care for the elderly, 2009 saw the introduction of the Elderly Healthcare Voucher Scheme. The interim review conducted during the second half of 2010 showed that the pilot program offered with $250.00 was widely acknowledged but with perhaps a lower than preferred adoption rate. The most telling of the facts are that only 34% of the eligible clinics became part of the program, whereas 50% of the elderly accustomed to visiting private healthcare used the vouchers. The major reason the other 50% of the elderly did not take advantage of the vouchers was the primary care facility they frequent had not enrolled in the program, or that there was not a clinic nearby that had enrolled.

The vouchers did offset costs incurred in everyday disease and injuries, but very little went towards preventive care. 70% of the used vouchers where for acute episodic conditions and another 21.5% where used in the follow-up and rehabilitation. A mere 6% was consumed in preventive measure. In many ways it can be attributed to the average view of healthcare than a failure of the scheme. The main rationale was the average of a 39-week wait to see a geriatrician and an additional 20-week delay to grace the doors of a specialist, one-third viewed it as a shortcut. Of course most used them because it was free.

In a survey of those eligible for the scheme, there was a five to one ratio of those who felt $250.00 was enough. Of the participants that wanted a greater subsidy; a little more than half of them would like to see a subsidy of $300.00-$500.00 and the remainder $500.00-$1000.00. The three most requested items to include in voucher scheme was 75% wanted to lower the recipient age, 63% wanted to add public healthcare system to the eligibility (not going to happen) and 28% wanted optometrists.

As of 2014, the voucher amount has been increased to $2000.00 with unused portions rolling over to a cap of $4000.00. Optometrists have been added as providers in the scheme. Widespread marketing has reached saturation point of general knowledge. What are not wide spread are enrolled medical and dental clinics. As a matter of fact, the dental enrollment rate is still at 20%. Has the elderly Healthcare Voucher Scheme been successful? If not, who’s fault is it?

Credits to Stephen Chinn, business developer at TopDoc
Pictures credits: Ding Yuin Shan, Picture name: Malfunction, Picture link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/90461913@N00/6325486937