3,000 Singaporeans living abroad have applied to stop paying MediShield Life premiums

MediShield Life offers higher claim limits for hospital bills and some outpatient treatments, and covers more pre-existing medical conditions compared to MediShield.
MediShield Life offers higher claim limits for hospital bills and some outpatient treatments, and covers more pre-existing medical conditions compared to MediShield.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About 3,000 Singaporeans residing overseas have applied to suspend their payments for MediShield Life premiums as of the end of September, according to Ministry of Health (MOH) statistics.

About 70 per cent of these applications were approved. Another 26 per cent were rejected because they did not fulfil the criteria for application and the final 4 per cent are still being reviewed, the ministry told  The Straits Times on Thursday (Oct 26).

MOH said there are 213,400 Singaporeans residing abroad at the end of September.

In October last year, MOH announced that it could allow Singaporeans living abroad to suspend their payments of MediShield Life premiums, if they did not plan to return to Singapore. Applications opened on Oct 7, 2016.

MediShield Life replaced MediShield from November 2015. It offers higher claim limits for hospital bills and some outpatient treatments, and covers more pre-existing medical conditions compared to MediShield.

Applicants who wish to suspend their MediShield Life premiums need to have a valid permanent resident permit in the country they are living in. They also are required to have lived abroad for at least five years, with no more than 140 days spent back in Singapore during this period. They should be able to afford healthcare in their country of residence and declare that they do not need to rely on MediShield Life in Singapore. This declaration can be made if they have not benefited from MediShield or MediShield Life payouts in the five years prior to the start of the suspension.

They should also have either completed their full-time National Service, or are not required to serve full-time National Service.

One applicant who was rejected for not meeting the criteria is Ms Juliet Low, 36, a real estate manager who has lived in Britain for nine years. She told Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao in a report on Thursday that she had returned home for more than 140 days in the past five years, leading to her application being turned down.