In his 2013 National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the new universal health insurance scheme MediShield Life. There are a lot of debates after the announcement, I have since published two articles about this topics
- How sustainable are the current Medisave-Approved Private Plans
- Medishield Life Change and CPF The “Hot Potato”
On Jan 19, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong tabled the MediShield Life Scheme Bill in Parliament. Here’s a sneak peek of the MediShield Life details.
What is MediShield Life?
Medishield Life is a compulsory healthcare insurance scheme which covers all Singapore citizens and permanent residents for life. It will replace MediShield, the current basic healthcare scheme.
All Singapore citizens and permanent residents will be automatically covered under MediShield Life when it kicks in end 2015. There is no need to apply.
What are the key differences between MediShield and MediShield Life?
- MediShield Life covers everyone, including those with pre-existing conditions who are not covered under MediShield today. But those with serious pre-existing conditions will have to pay 30 percent higher premiums for 10 years.
- MediShield Life has higher claim limits for hospital bills and outpatient cancer treatment.
- There is no more lifetime claim limit under MediShield Life; MediShield has a lifetime claim limit of S$300,000.
- Below is the summary of the benefits
MediShield Life premium and subsidies
You can go to www.medishieldlife.sg/calculator to calculate your estimated MediShield Life premiums after subsidies. The premiums can be fully paid from Medisave.
There will be premium subsidies for lower- and middle-income households. This is applicable to Singapore citizens and permanent residents with monthly per capita household income (PCHI) of up to $2,600, and living in residences with an annual value of $21,000 or less. PCHI is the total household income divided by the number of family members living under the same roof.
There will also be transitional subsidies for all Singapore Citizens and special premium subsidies and Medisave top-ups for the pioneer generation for life.
Perhaps one of the biggest controversies is that the bill gives wide-ranging powers to the administrator to access people’s income and health status without explicit consent from them.
These include the power to check a person’s income with the taxman and his health status via medical records at hospitals. All this is without needing to get permission from the person being checked, although there is a clause allowing those who find the checks too intrusive to forbid them.
The MediShield Life Scheme Bill also gives the minister the same powers as the taxman for recovering unpaid premiums, such as getting employers to deduct the sum from a worker’s salary or getting banks to do so from the person’s account.
But to me, this really isn’t a big deal.
First of all, accept it or not, there is really no privacy in this digital age.
Secondly, the procedure for identifying people with an existing illness should be simplified. When my clients need to apply for insurance or make a claim, it often takes a few months for the hospital to issue a report, even with the full consent from the client. This is particularly unpleasant to those who need the coverage or to pay the medical bills.
My main concern is the stability of the premium. CPF has been rocketing the premium for the past few years. The premiums are now more than double than what people were paying previously.
Instead of blaming the rising medical cost, there is a lot to be done by controlling the inflated bills from the medical providers.