Budget 2016: PAP Seniors Group seeks review of ElderShield

The People's Action Party (PAP) Seniors Group wants more to be done for elderly folk who are suffering from age-related ailments, as well as for their families, who are the caregivers.
The People's Action Party (PAP) Seniors Group wants more to be done for elderly folk who are suffering from age-related ailments, as well as for their families, who are the caregivers. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

It calls for insurance scheme to be made compulsory and financial help for caregivers

The People's Action Party (PAP) Seniors Group wants more to be done for elderly folk who are suffering from age-related ailments, as well as for their families, who are the caregivers.

Its recommendations include improving ElderShield, a national insurance scheme for those with severe disabilities.

Yesterday, its list of ideas for the upcoming Budget was submitted to the Finance and Health ministries by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who heads the group.

The organisation, a wing of the ruling party, was formed in 2013 to champion causes for the elderly.

Among its proposals yesterday were for ElderShield to be made compulsory, instead of allowing those who are eligible to opt out.

The scheme was introduced in 2002, but excluded those aged 70 and older that year. The group said this age limit should be removed.

NEED FOR LONG-TERM VIEW

ElderShield has not only a much smaller risk pool, but this risk pool is also split among three insurance companies, raising serious questions about its long-term viability, affordability of its premiums and extensiveness of coverage.

PEOPLE'S ACTION PARTY SENIORS GROUP, on why it wants the scheme to be administered by the CPF Board.

It also wants the scheme to include those with pre-existing conditions, which is the case with the new MediShield Life health insurance.

The group also wants ElderShield to be administered by the Central Provident Fund Board, instead of the three private insurers which are providing coverage now. It said those covered under ElderShield make up only about one-third of those under Medishield Life.

"ElderShield has not only a much smaller risk pool, but this risk pool is also split among three insurance companies, raising serious questions about its long-term viability, affordability of its premiums and extensiveness of coverage."

As for ElderShield payouts, the group suggests that payouts be pegged to inflation or reviewed every three years, to ensure they keep pace with rising costs.

Payouts should also ideally last until the end of the beneficiary's life, instead of the current maximum of six years.

It also called on the Government to keep premiums affordable, but did not say what steps needed to be taken to ensure this.

As for caregivers, the group said many may have left their careers or taken less demanding jobs to care for ailing family members. To make up for lost income, it calls on the Government to give them an allowance or top up their CPF Medisave or Retirement Accounts.

As the need for healthcare staff is expected to grow, the group also said it hopes the Government will do more to attract Singaporeans to take up such jobs through job redesign, training, better pay and better career paths.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2016, with the headline 'PAP Seniors Group seeks review of ElderShield'. Print Edition | Subscribe