ElderShield: Stay voluntary or be made mandatory?

ElderShield is an insurance scheme for people with severe disabilities who cannot carry out daily activities such as eating, dressing or taking a bath on their own.
ElderShield is an insurance scheme for people with severe disabilities who cannot carry out daily activities such as eating, dressing or taking a bath on their own.PHOTO: ST FILE

As the severe disability insurance scheme ElderShield is being reviewed, one new question is whether it should remain voluntary or be made mandatory.

This is part of the feedback received by the ElderShield Review Committee so far, said Mr Chaly Mah, chairman of the 14-member committee, last night. He was speaking to reporters at the first of several public consultations.

ElderShield is an insurance scheme for people with severe disabilities who cannot carry out daily activities such as eating, dressing or taking a bath on their own.

The voluntary, opt-out scheme gives payouts of up to $400 a month, for up to six years, for beneficiaries aged 40 and above.

But it is being reviewed to see how it can be improved: for instance, what the appropriate level of coverage and benefits should be.

Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat, who was an observer last night, said it was important to balance competing concerns. For instance, raising benefits would cause premiums to rise.

One view was that a risk-pooling scheme such as ElderShield should be mandatory in order to work, noted Mr Chee. But if so, the question is how to ensure low-income Singaporeans still benefit, he added.

The committee is gathering feedback and will submit its recommendations by the end of the year.

Last night's discussion involved 47 participants aged 23 to 75, ranging from retirees to caregivers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2017, with the headline 'ElderShield: Stay voluntary or be made mandatory?'. Print Edition | Subscribe