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Totting up the bill for Integrated Shield policies

High premiums may see many give up private plans when MediShield Life starts

Published on Jun 21, 2014 9:45 AM
Housewife Niki Liu reading letters from the CPF Board and HDB as her youngest child Rey Phua looks on. She has been thinking twice about maintaining her IP in the face of rising premiums. -- PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Madam Niki Liu never realised how much her Integrated Shield Plan (IP) was costing her until this year.

After doing the sums, the 45-year-old discovered that her Medisave account - which she had been drawing on to pay the premiums - would run dry in about 10 years.

"I used to work, so at that time I didn't do the calculations," said the former bank teller. She stopped work when her youngest child, Rey Phua, was born six years ago.

Madam Liu started working out the sums only when her insurer told her her premium would go up to more than $600 a year - an increase of about $200.

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Background story

Hospitalisation coverage

  • Q: I have a Class A ward Integrated Shield Plan, but have an exclusion clause for pre-existing heart condition. Will I be covered by MediShield Life if I'm hospitalised for a heart problem - since it's supposed to cover even pre-existing diseases?

A: An Integrated Shield Plan (IP) comprises two parts - the basic MediShield plan and a top-up portion. IP policyholders enjoy the combined benefits of MediShield, which is run by the CPF Board, and the enhanced benefits of the top-up portion, which is run by private insurers.

MediShield Life provides a basic level of coverage, aimed at Class B2 or Class C wards in the public hospitals. Your IP adds on to this coverage so that you can be adequately covered when you seek treatment in Class A wards in the public hospitals.

Because MediShield Life will provide coverage for all pre-existing conditions, all IP policyholders will also enjoy the MediShield Life coverage, for life, including for any pre-existing conditions.

In your case, MediShield Life will provide basic coverage for your pre-existing heart condition, even if this is excluded from the top-up coverage by your private insurer.

What this means is that should you need treatment for your pre-existing heart condition, and your IP continues to exclude it, you will still enjoy insurance coverage at Class B2 or Class C in the public hospitals, provided by MediShield Life.

If you are treated in a Class A ward, MediShield Life will reimburse you the amount you would have received in a B2 ward.

  • Q: I am covered under IncomeShield rather than IncomeShield Life. Since, as a citizen, I am automatically covered under MediShield Life, should I give up IncomeShield, especially as I don't plan to opt for anything higher than Class B2 if hospitalised?

If I don't, will I be wasting money on premiums for IncomeShield? Can you please explain how I can switch from an Integrated Shield Plan to MediShield Life in future when circumstances warrant it?

A: Singaporeans should carefully consider their choice of ward class and purchase insurance coverage accordingly.

If you want to stay in private hospitals, or in Class A/B1 in public hospitals, you may wish to purchase a suitable IP. However, your premiums will be higher.

If you plan to stay in a Class B2 or C subsidised ward, MediShield Life will be good enough.

If you give up your IP, you will be automatically covered by MediShield Life when it is implemented at the end of next year.