We thank Mr Chia Tong Hiang ("Make insurers accept those with pre-existing conditions"; Aug 1) and Mr Steven Sit Poh Sang ("Integrated Shield Plans have a role to play"; Forum Online, July 31) for their feedback.
MediShield Life is designed to provide adequate coverage for patients who are staying in Class B2 or C wards, or receiving subsidised treatment in public hospitals.
When implemented on Nov 1, it will provide lifetime coverage for all Singapore citizens and permanent residents, including those with pre-existing conditions.
The coverage of pre-existing conditions does not extend to the additional private insurance component in Integrated Shield plans (IPs).
Mr Chia suggested that private insurers cover those with pre-existing illnesses with some premium loading.
From Nov 1, we will allow private insurers to offer such risk-loaded policies, where they charge policyholders higher premiums to insure their pre-existing conditions under the additional private insurance component of IPs.
The insurers will have to decide whether they are prepared to offer such policies, and when they are ready to do so, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will work with them to ensure that policyholders are well-informed of their options and any differences in premiums.
While having an IP is a personal decision, we agree with Mr Sit that individuals should review their needs before deciding what to do with their IPs.
MOH encourages IP policyholders to understand how MediShield Life will work, before making any changes to their IPs.
Individuals can consider two broad factors when considering an IP - firstly, the type of ward they prefer to stay in if they are hospitalised and whether they wish to choose their doctor ; second, whether they can afford their IP premiums in the long run, as premiums do increase with age.
Mr Sit also suggested that the availability of subsidised healthcare facilities should be a factor to be considered in individual decisions to purchase an IP.
MOH has been increasing hospital capacity to better meet the needs of Singapore's growing and ageing population, including the building of new hospitals.
Today, subsidised beds comprise 80 per cent of the beds in our public hospitals, and more beds will be added when the new hospitals are ready.
Lim Bee Khim (Ms)
Ministry of Health