Over 7000 people receive inaccurate subsidies due to IT error

Singapore people during weekends

Almost 7700 Singaporeans, who applied for and renewed their Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) cards between September 18 and October 10 last year, had received inaccurate healthcare subsidies. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that it happened because of a computer system error.

In a statement, the Ministry said on Saturday, February 16 that the computer system, which is administrated by IT firm NCS, had miscalculated the means-test results of these people. The NCS stated that the issue occurred due to an "isolated case of human error," which caused an incorrect version of the software to be deployed during a system migration.

However, as per MOH, the corrections have been made by Saturday. So, the affected individuals don't have to worry anymore.

Because of the IT error, almost 1,300 individuals received lower subsidies that are estimated to be about $400,000, while another 6,400 individuals received higher subsidies and as per MOH, they don't have to return the additional subsidies disbursed that is estimated to be about $2 million.

"MOH intends to recover from NCS the costs and expenses incurred as a result of this incident, as allowed for under our contract," MOH spokesperson said.

As per the process, based on the income of these individuals, the means-test calculates the healthcare subsidies. So, lower-income households receive greater financial support than others.

MOH stated that it first detected the error in September. Even though the Chas team informed NCS about the issue, the error was initially attributed to intermittent network connection problems.

Later, between October 9 and November 2 after the detection of five more cases, an investigation was launched and by the end of November NCS traced the IT error and understood how it happened.

The deputy chief executive of NCS, Ng Kuo Pin said they have tightened system deployment processes and keeping a close eye to prevent any recurrence.

"As a vendor, we are accountable to MOH, our client, and we regret the error and inconvenience caused to our fellow Singaporeans," he added.