CareShield Life can be more inclusive

While CareShield Life may be commended for including recipients with disabilities, it seems to have stopped short at gender, with a stark difference in premium payments between men and women (ElderShield to make way for compulsory CareShield Life; May 28).

This difference was explained as a way to factor in differences in life expectancy and the likelihood and duration of severe disability between men and women.

While this difference in payments may have been justified in the ElderShield scheme as it is run by private insurers, CareShield Life is a not-for-profit insurance scheme run by the Government, and principles of inclusivity and fairness should be given priority.

We must consider the financial needs of women in Singapore.

In 2016, 78 per cent of prime working-age women were outside the labour force because of family responsibilities, including caregiving.

Overall, women are accumulating less money over the years, but are required to pay higher eldercare premiums.

CareShield Life has the scope to inclusively define who qualifies for its payouts.

Currently, only those requiring help with three or more activities of daily living can receive the payout, which leaves behind those with moderate disabilities who require help with just one or two activities of daily living.

Such individuals may still require part-time or full-time care, and this role of caregiving is often played by women who may have to give up paid work, leading to financial impoverishment in old age.

Another way to make CareShield Life more inclusive is by means-testing individual applicants, not households.

With the current method of means-testing households, there is no assurance that financially better off family members are paying for the care expenditure, nor is there a guarantee that the care recipient can access the financial resources of other family members.

We welcome the Government's move to introduce an inclusive long-term care scheme, but urge that this be reviewed on a continuous basis to ensure that the scheme is inclusive and fair to all, and meets the needs of an ageing population that will require increasing care.

Nabilah Husna (Ms)

Communications & Community Engagement Manager

Association of Women for Action and Research

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2018, with the headline 'CareShield Life can be more inclusive'. Print Edition | Subscribe