Senior health correspondent Salma Khalik ("New B1 insurance plan fails to address some concerns"; last Thursday) and opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong ("Standard B1 health plan: A missed opportunity to bring private health insurers to heel"; ST Online, Sunday) urged the Government to do more with the Standard Integrated Shield Plan (Standard IP), beyond standardising the benefits of the plan.
The Government's focus is to provide basic and affordable health insurance coverage for all Singaporeans through MediShield Life, regardless of their health condition.
Therefore, MediShield Life is designed to provide sufficient coverage for subsidised Class B2/C wards.
Singaporeans who wish to have coverage beyond MediShield Life can purchase private IPs, which will come at higher premiums than MediShield Life, due to the additional private insurance component.
The Standard IP was developed in response to the MediShield Life Review Committee's recommendation in 2014, to provide a "no-frills" IP option, for those who want to switch from their more expensive IPs to a more affordable one, and for those who wish to have higher coverage beyond MediShield Life.
The Standard IP was also designed to have standardised features to facilitate comparison of premiums by consumers.
Like all other IPs, Standard IP coverage is optional and it is not intended to meet the needs of all Singaporeans. Underwriting for the additional private insurance component is therefore necessary.
Otherwise, there will be adverse selection, where individuals may purchase the higher coverage only after they have fallen ill, leading to higher premiums for all, including for healthy policyholders who joined earlier.
While MediShield Life covers all Singaporeans for all health conditions, those with serious pre-existing conditions pay additional premiums, as a reflection of their higher risks and to fund part of their coverage.
The Government bears the bulk of the cost of covering those with pre-existing conditions.
The Government's focus remains to provide basic universal healthcare coverage for all Singaporeans through MediShield Life, with IPs as an optional private plan providing higher than basic coverage.
The Ministry of Health will continue to review MediShield Life and IPs, to ensure that they remain relevant to Singaporeans with different needs.
As our population ages, we must also focus on promoting healthy living and active ageing, transforming our care models, and improving productivity to keep our healthcare system sustainable and affordable for all Singaporeans.
Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Ministry of Health