Higher healthcare premiums 'possible if claims increase'

PREMIUMS for integrated health insurance plans (IPs) may eventually go up if it makes good business sense for insurance companies, said Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min yesterday. He added that this is especially if Singapore residents make more healthcare claims under these plans.

Last Friday, the five private insurers promised they would not raise premiums for their portion of the IPs when MediShield Life - an enhanced version of MediShield - kicks in later this year.

IPs consist of a Government-run insurance portion and a "top-up' for enhanced coverage by private insurers. This means that if individuals find that their MediShield Life premiums are higher than their current MediShield premiums, this will be due only to the extended coverage provided under MediShield Life.

MediShield Life will cover a significantly larger proportion of the payout for future claims, noted Dr Lam, who was speaking on the sidelines of a community event in Sengkang. "I would urge the IP insurers to take that into consideration when they do review the premiums subsequently," he said.

Dr Lam also said that the Health Ministry is currently reviewing the list of pre-existing conditions that warrant higher premiums, and that it should be ready in one or two months' time.

He added that the Government is taking a "fair and compassionate approach" in this respect.

Only those with serious pre-existing medical conditions - such as kidney failure requiring long-term dialysis - and who are not currently covered under MediShield will have to pay higher premiums. "For simple medical conditions like hypertension - well-controlled, no serious complications - that will not warrant any additional premiums," he said.

LINETTE LAI

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2015, with the headline 'Higher healthcare premiums 'possible if claims increase''. Print Edition | Subscribe