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NCS IT glitch issues 7,700 inaccurate healthcare notices

NCS IT glitch issues 7,700 inaccurate healthcare notices

System miscalculated means-test results of roughly 7,700 individuals

Credit: Dreamstime

Around 7,700 people have had inaccurate healthcare and intermediate and long-term care subsidies issued to them due to a computer system error administered by Singapore-based NCS.

The error affected those who applied for and renewed their community health assist scheme (CHAS) cards in September and October last year, it has been revealed.

The CHAS was set up by the Singapore government to provide Singapore citizens from lower- and middle-income households subsidies for both medical as well as dental care from participating general practitioners (GPs) and dental clinics near their home.

According to a statement issued by Singapore’s ministry of health (MOH), the system had miscalculated the means-test results of the roughly 7,700 individuals in question, representing about 17 per cent of individuals under the scheme.

Both intermediate and long-term care subsidies were affected, however MOH has clarified that all means-test and subsidy tiers for all affected individuals have been corrected as of 16 February.

MOH also clarified that no action is required on the part of the affected persons at this point, as the ministry works with affected persons and with healthcare providers and scheme administrators to reach out to them.

Furthermore, about 1,300 individuals who received lower subsidies will have the difference reimbursed to them, with the total amount estimated to be about $400,000.

Another 6,400 individuals received higher subsidies due to the error but will not need to return the additional subsidies disbursed, with the total amount estimated to be about $2 million.

The error was due to a software version update on a server according to the ministry, with NCS having traced the cause to a server used by the means-test system, which happened when the system was migrated to another government data centre in September.

This meant that the means-test results were computed without the requisite income information, according to MOH.

However, due to unrelated slow performance issues NCS fixed the software version on 10 October 2018, which prevented the issue snowballing but failed to correct the means-test results generated from 18 September to 10 October.

MOH has been working with NCS since December to establish the extent of the impact, including the correct subsidy tiers for each individual under the different services and schemes. This was to determine who could have received higher or lower subsidies than what they were eligible for.

The final assessment was completed on 14 January 2019, and MOH worked with grant scheme administrators and healthcare institutions to finalise the remedial action plans, including how affected individuals will be informed and reimbursed.

The correct subsidy tiers of all affected individuals were restored by 16 February 2019, while service providers and scheme administrators will now progressively inform the affected individuals and arrange for reimbursements where applicable, according to MOH’s statement.

“We expect all the affected individuals to be informed by mid-March 2019,” read the statement.

In response to the incident, NCS has taken further remedial action by tightening the system deployment processes, and implementing further safeguards to prevent any recurrence of such incidents.


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