Educating the public on MediShield Life and its details is a long-term process that will involve a multi-pronged approach, Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef said yesterday.
The new compulsory health insurance, which replaces MediShield, kicked in yesterday and covers all 3.9 million Singaporeans and permanent residents from birth to death.
Those covered include the very old and those who have preexisting illnesses.
MediShield Life also offers better protection and higher payouts, so patients pay less cash or use less of their Medisave for large hospital bills.
Speaking on the sidelines of a community event, Dr Fatimah said she is training grassroots leaders to explain the new healthcare policy to residents in her Geylang Serai ward.
"This is what we do with most policies; we train the trainers, so that we can get them out there and have a multiplier effect," she said.
MediShield Life explanations will be "piggybacked" onto ongoing education and outreach efforts for the Community Health Assist Scheme card and Pioneer Generation Package during house visits and at condominium and block parties.
Starting today, free one-on-one question-and-answer sessions will also be provided by weekly appointment for residents, with representatives from the Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore.
Said Dr Fatimah: "The important part of MediShield Life is that it gives people with known chronic illnesses the ability to have coverage.
"They have to pay 30 per cent upfront as a form of coverage for the first 10 years , but I think that's reasonable enough, because these are the people who will utilise healthcare services a whole lot more than others."
The 49-year-old senior consultant at Singapore General Hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine also emphasised the importance of young people planning ahead for their healthcare needs.
"As a doctor for 25 years now, I've come across a lot of people who, out of the blue, are struck by an illness and then they start thinking about it and planning, but it's too late," she said.
"So my message to them is that the moment they start working, they should think about this, because we cannot predict who's going to get what illness."
Dr Fatimah was the guest of honour at a dessert-making competition at Geylang Serai Community Club yesterday which was attended by more than 500 residents. She did a cooking demonstration of mango pulut, or mango sticky rice with gingko nuts, at the event.