Insurance plan pays for hospice care

Pancreatic cancer struck Madam Qiu Gui Ning's husband when he was 61, three years ago.

Fortunately, he had made it a point to have enough medical insurance and he received a daily allowance of $250 while he stayed for 12 days in a hospice in May last year, before he died.

"The cancer was most unforeseen but we were glad that he was able to live out his last days comfortably in a hospice," said Madam Qiu, 58.

He could do so because of a little known benefit under Great Eastern's Total Health plan. Since 2013, its policyholders can claim up to $300 a day for hospice stays. Great Eastern is the only insurer to offer such a benefit under an Integrated Shield plan.

"Some patients are stuck in hospital because their insurance plans do not cover care at a hospice," said Dr Cynthia Goh, senior consultant at the National Cancer Centre Singapore and chair of the Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network.

"Insurance firms here still have not realised that better care can be obtained at a hospice at a fraction of the cost of the hospital," she added. It costs about $200 to $300 a day for a patient to stay in a hospice.

The Government has raised the Medisave withdrawal limits for palliative care from January. The daily limit now is $200, up from $160 and the lifetime limit for home palliative care is $2,500, up from $1,500.

For patients with terminal illnesses, there is no restriction on the amount they can use from their Medisave accounts.

Janice Tai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'Insurance plan pays for hospice care'. Print Edition | Subscribe