We refer to Ms Salma Khalik's commentary (Are MediShield Life payouts lower than subsidised fees?; Jan 4).
When MediShield Life was launched in 2015, the claim limits were set to cover nine out of 10 subsidised bills.
Based on latest available figures, eight in 10 subsidised bills were within the MediShield Life claim limits, and nine in 10 were within $230 of the claim limits.
The remaining bills tend to be those of a more complex nature or were cases which involved higher income patients who received lower means-tested subsidies.
Overall, MediShield Life provides Singaporeans with protection against large bills, with affordable premiums. In particular, having a deductible for each year and a co-insurance borne by the patient, ensures that MediShield Life remains sustainable, and premiums kept affordable.
Even with the co-payment, MediShield Life, in tandem with Medisave, allows for eight in 10 subsidised hospital bills to be paid with $100 or less in cash, and seven in 10 are fully paid without any additional cash outlay by the patient.
In some cases, however, the patient's co-payment can be high.
In most of these cases, the procedure would not have been a straightforward one. In Mr Seow Ban Yam's case, for instance, the procedure he had to undergo (bilateral dacryocystorhinostomy) is uncommon and complex, and was performed by a senior consultant.
There is an ongoing review of claim limits, and the consequential impact on premiums, to ensure that MediShield Life's coverage remains broad-based and sustainable. The review will be completed by end 2020.
In the meantime, patients who face financial difficulties can apply for assistance such as Medifund to ensure that healthcare remains affordable.
In the case of SNEC, its charges are being reviewed to ensure they remain affordable, including for operations such as dacryocystorhinostomy.
SNEC will introduce these fee revisions from March 1.
We stress that no Singaporean will be denied essential healthcare treatment due to inability to pay.
The Government provides significant subsidies of up to 80 per cent to keep healthcare costs low, and all Singaporeans are protected against large healthcare bills through MediShield Life.
Patients can pay for the co-payment part of their bills with their Medisave. Medifund and various forms of financial assistance at our public institutions are also available for those in need.
Lim Siok Peng (Ms)
Director, Corporate Communications Division
Ministry of Health