VIDEO

Singapore Budget 2014: Gan spells out how Medishield Life premiums to stay affordable

The premiums that lower- and middle-income households will have to pay for the new Medishield Life insurance that kicks in next year, will be the same or lower than what they now pay. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR
The premiums that lower- and middle-income households will have to pay for the new Medishield Life insurance that kicks in next year, will be the same or lower than what they now pay. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR

The premiums that lower- and middle-income households will have to pay for the new Medishield Life insurance that kicks in next year, will be the same or lower than what they now pay.

That is after taking into account the Government's permanent subsidies and Medisave contributions and top-ups.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong gave this assurance on Wednesday, as he shed light on the approach the Government intends to take to keep premium increases affordable.

He said the Government intends to bear most of the initial cost of universal coverage, with permanent subsidies to be introduced for lower to middle income groups and an additional transitional subsidy for all, regardless of income, to tide over the shift to MediShield Life.

He also said a typical Singaporean household, comprising a working-age couple with two school-going children, will take up no more than half of their annual Medisave inflow to pay for their MediShield Life premiums.

Additional financial help, such as through Medifund, will be given to the very needy who cannot pay premiums even after subsidies and Medisave top-ups, said Mr Gan.

There will be no net increase in premiums for older Singaporeans aged 55 to 64 who are currently on MediShield and earning up to median income, after government subsidies and Medisave top-ups are included.

The pioneer generation - those aged 65 and above this year and who became citizens before 1987 - will get extra help with their MediShield Life premiums. The Government will give a special subsidy starting from 40 per cent at 65 and rising to 60 per cent at 90, while pioneers aged 80 and above this year will have their premiums fully covered.

"Our intent is that no Singaporean will drop out of MediShield Life because of their inability to pay for premiums," he said. But those who have the means should still pay their own share so government support will go to those who most need help, he added.

Even so, the Government will give additional transitional premium subsidies for all Singaporeans, regardless of income, said Mr Gan.

While the MediShield Life review is still ongoing, Mr Gan said he was glad that many Singaporeans support the shift to provide lifelong coverage and better benefits under the new scheme. "MediShield Life is as much about giving all Singaporeans greater peace of mind, as it is about us forging a new social compact - with everyone chipping in to better protect one another from having to face life's uncertainties alone."