Make insurers accept those with pre-existing conditions

Chairman Mr Bobby Chin (fourth from left) with members of the Medishield Life Review Committee, speaking during the press conference, held at the Suntec City Convention Centre on June 27, 2014.
Chairman Mr Bobby Chin (fourth from left) with members of the Medishield Life Review Committee, speaking during the press conference, held at the Suntec City Convention Centre on June 27, 2014.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

I applaud the Government's effort in making MediShield Life available to all Singaporeans, including those with pre-existing illnesses ("Relief for those with pre-existing illnesses"; June 19, 2014) .

This will especially benefit those in the lower-income group.

However, those in the middle-income group - who do not enjoy as many government subsidies and have pre-existing illnesses, but who do not mind paying higher premiums for better coverage by private insurers - face the prospect of being rejected by private insurers.

At the moment, those who have missed the boat to get comprehensive coverage while they were healthy and working, or due to the lack of awareness, will face the following issues, even with the availability of MediShield Life:

•No coverage for things such as X-rays and consultations within 90 days prior to and after hospitalisation.

•Having to pay for co-insurance and deductibles.

•Face long waiting times in making consultation appointments at government hospitals.

•Being unable to choose a doctor they prefer.

•They can only choose to stay in B2 and C wards. Anything above that and their bills will be much higher.

I suggest that the Government push private insurers to accept those with pre-existing illnesses, such as in the case of MediShield Life, with some premium loading, at least for B1 wards for a start.

Some people have suggested calling it "MediShield Life Plus" ("Good case to align B1 premiums"; July 5, 2014).

Alternatively, the Government could consider implementing this on its own or work with other insurers which are willing to do so.

I understand some insurers are already offering global coverage but the plans are very expensive. They may just have to adapt the plans for local coverage with government subsidies.

This will also ease the congestion of patients waiting for beds in the B2 and C wards.

Chia Tong Hiang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'Make insurers accept those with pre-existing conditions'. Print Edition | Subscribe