Wanted: Public feedback on how to improve ElderShield

Peg ElderShield payouts to inflation or review it every three years to ensure the payouts keep pace with rising costs.

And make the payouts last until the end of the beneficiary's life instead of the current maximum of six years.

That was one idea mooted in March this year.

Suggestions like these are what the ElderShield Review Committee wants as it reviews the disability insurance scheme.

To get public feedback, the committee will be hosting a series of public consultation sessions from January to June next year to find out how people think the scheme can be improved.

The review committee is looking for opinions on the appropriate level of ElderShield coverage and benefits, as well as input on how premiums can be kept affordable even if benefits go up.

The 14-member committee will also look at how to make it easier to sign up for ElderShield and make claims.

ElderShield is an insurance scheme for those who have severe disabilities - that is, people who cannot carry out daily activities such as eating, dressing or taking a bath on their own.

Currently, the scheme provides payouts of up to $400 a month for up to six years. It covered 1.2 million people aged 40 to 83 as of the end of last year.

"ElderShield is an important component of the long-term care financing landscape, and complements personal savings, government subsidies and various financial assistance schemes," said Mr Chaly Mah, chairman of the Singapore Accountancy Commission, who heads the committee.

"As we consider possible enhancements to ElderShield, we should also bear in mind that better coverage and benefits will come with higher premiums."

Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat also wrote on Facebook about reviewing the scheme.

"As we enhance the benefits, we will need to carefully evaluate how to balance these with the impact on costs, and how we can provide more support for lower-income Singaporeans to enable them to afford the premiums and participate in the scheme," he said.

The first public consultation session, which is open to interested citizens and permanent residents, will be held on Jan 11 at 7pm at the YMCA of Singapore.

The next two sessions will be held on Feb 18 and March 23.

For details of upcoming sessions, the public can visit the ElderShield website at www.eldershield.sg.

Those who wish to sign up for the sessions can do so on the website. Alternatively, they can email the Health Ministry at moh_qsm@ moh.gov.sg or call 6325-9220.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2016, with the headline 'Wanted: Public feedback on how to improve ElderShield'. Print Edition | Subscribe