Each case is evaluated to consider the financial needs of the family, other assistance received from partner organizations/agencies, the family composition and related household expenses, transportation costs, medication budget, among other factors.
Based on the evaluation, MKAC will determine how much financial assistance to provide to the patient, and the time frame the support will be provided. As a stopgap measure, MKAC does not provide financial assistance indefinitely.
MKAC will also assist in the search and identification for alternative solutions to the financial strain borne by the patient. This may include a request for a more affordable dialysis centre, identification of other financial assistance sources that are more permanent, re-evaluation of the household’s budgeted expenses, income-earning opportunity for other family members, etc.
As the financial assistance from this scheme is specifically for dialysis treatment and related medication, MKAC makes all efforts to ensure that the assistance is provided in the form of a subsidy direct to the service or medication provider, and not in the form of a cash hand-out.
Low-income individuals in Singapore who suffer from chronic kidney failure typically receive some form of subsidy from NKF or KDF to ameliorate the cost of dialysis treatments. The patients in MKAC’s database today mostly receive this subsidy. The subsidy amount, while helpful, still leaves a portion of the cost (and the cost of medication) to be borne by the kidney patient, in many cases causing severe financial strain. Therefore MKAC established the Dialysis Financial Assistance Scheme (“DFAS”) as a subsidy scheme to provide financial support for qualified MKAC patients, where funds are provided as assistance in meeting the cost of dialysis and related medication.
Currently, while low-income kidney patients like those in MKAC’s database receive subsidies from NKF and KDF for dialysis treatments, these subsidies are never at 100% and in all cases, the patients still have to make some form of payment. Meanwhile the cost of medication and other treatments for related conditions (e.g. heart condition, diabetes, visual impairment, etc.) are not included in the subsidy.
Depending on the type of dialysis needed, the dialysis centre operator, the service provided by the dialysis centre and related medication, dialysis costs can range from $400 to as high as $1,500 per month. Other medication needed for accompanying conditions to kidney failure can add to expenses, which most low-income families find very difficult to bear. Most of the critical cases that MKAC manages show an average monthly per-family income of less than $1,000 – in severe cases, patients have even been known to avoid buying medication to save on expenses, resulting in dire consequences.
MKAC established this scheme to provide much needed financial assistance to help with the cost of dialysis treatment so that kidney patients do not need to place their lives at stake in order to save money. MKAC estimates that an average assistance amount of $100 per month for each patient will make the necessary difference, without causing undue dependence.
MKAC intends this scheme to be a stopgap measure between onset of kidney failure and alternative sustainable solutions to achieve assistance for the patient. As such, the search and identification of sustainable sources of income/assistance is an integral part of patient follow-up in this scheme.
Any MKAC-registered kidney patient is qualified to apply for financial assistance from this scheme. MKAC evaluates each case based on the financial situation of the patient and its family, as such low-income and destitute families will receive priority. At present, MKAC has already identified 30 patients that are in need of financial assistance.
MKAC has established the following goals for the DFAS:
- Effective identification of needy patients that cannot afford regular dialysis treatment and needed medication.
- Providing adequate financial assistance in the interim to ensure continuation of dialysis treatment and medication without risk of health.
- Successfully identifying and implementing long-term alternative sources of assistance or income-generation to ensure no future risk to ongoing dialysis treatments and medication.
To achieve the above goals, the DFAS has established the following targets for 2012.
- Identification of 30 patients that need financial assistance in dialysis treatments.
- Determination of assistance amounts for these 30 patients that are suitable for their financial situations within budget.
- At least 33% of patients assisted (10 patients) are offered identified alternative solutions to sustain their dialysis treatments/medication, implementable within 6 months.
- Remaining patients assisted are offered identified alternative solutions to sustain their dialysis treatments/medications, implementable within 2012.
- 100% of patients assisted have resumed continuing medication and treatment for at least 3 months.
- Observable and recordable improvement in dialysis treatment continuity and medication for all 30 patients at the end of 2012.
As a financial assistance scheme, the key resource needed to conduct this scheme is funds. There is a small allocation of operating cost to the evaluation, follow-up and administration of the scheme- which, if funds are limited, can be conducted by volunteers currently active in MKAC.
MKAC has estimated that this year’s zakat allocations will be sharply reduced to $100/patient. Although we have included this in the budget, please note that this is an estimated figure and actual amount received may differ sharply.