SINGAPORE- The proposed MediShield Life scheme will provide "far better protection" against large bills, and also cover those with pre-existing health conditions while keeping premiums affordable, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.
The new scheme is a major policy undertaking which reflects a continuation of the work that has been going on for more than a decade,Mr Wong wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday morning.
He recounted how as a civil servant back in 2004, he had helped to implement the first MediShield Reform. "Back then, MediShield was losing its effectiveness - for patients with large hospital bills, MediShield only covered about 40 per cent of the bill, leaving the patients with a high effective co-payment," he wrote. In updating the scheme, they had to balance the desire for better payouts with a "contrasting desire" for affordable premiums.
He shared a personal episode in which he experienced the benefits of this update. His father suffered a sudden heart attack last year and had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery. Due to complications, he had to be hospitalised for some time, and the bill exceeded $20,000. But more than 70 per cent of the bill was covered by insurance, and the rest was paid out through Medisave and cash.
While this was better than the old MediShield, "it could still have been better", Mr Wong noted. The reform then did not include more payouts and coverage for pre-existing illnesses because the required premium increase would have been "too large to bear".
But the new MediShield Life will be able to do all this while keeping premiums affordable for three reasons: every Singaporean chips in, employer Medisave contribution will see a 1 per cent increase, and the Government will provide "significant and targeted" subsidies for the Pioneer Generation and lower to middle-income households.
"So this is a collective effort involving individuals, employers and the Government." he wrote.
The premium structure of MediShield Life will also have a discount feature for the elderly which allows them to "pre-pay" some of the premiums when they are young so that they can enjoy discounted premium rates when they turn 66 years old, he added.