Relief for employers of foreign workers with high medical bills

Construction workers at work.
Construction workers at work. PHOTO: ST FILE

We refer to recent discussions on insurance coverage for foreign domestic workers (Responsibility lies with employer if maid's insurance cover is inadequate, April 29; Have simple system that gives maids proper healthcare cover, April 24), and the news report (Insurance coverage for maids too low: Agents, NGOs, April 12).

Employers are responsible for the welfare of their foreign work permit holders, including covering their medical treatments.

It is a more reasonable approach than to externalise such costs and impose them on taxpayers.

Employers are required to purchase medical insurance plans with a minimum coverage of $15,000 per year to help them manage the medical costs of their foreign work permit holders.

Employers who wish to be better protected against large medical bills can opt for insurance plans with higher coverage, which carry higher premiums.

In the past three years, 96 per cent of foreign domestic worker (FDW) medical bills was below $15,000.

This means that the vast majority of FDW employers were able to claim the full medical cost from the insurers.

Employers can approach the healthcare institutions for assistance in the remaining cases.

In the case of the employer, Mr Saw, which The Straits Times reported on, the hospital did offer him medical relief but he has yet to respond.

Mr Saw had incurred medical bills of at least $60,300 for his maid after she suffered a stroke.

The Ministry of Manpower reviews its policies regularly to ensure adequate medical insurance coverage for work permit holders.

In 2010, the mandatory insurance coverage for work permit holders was raised from $5,000 to $15,000 to keep up with the higher medical bills.

The ministry has to balance sufficient insurance coverage with affordable premiums for employers.

While providing relief to employers with genuine need, we are also mindful of over-consumption of services in our public healthcare system.

Chew Ee Tien

Director, Foreign Manpower Unit

Workplace Policy and Strategy Division

Ministry of Manpower

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2019, with the headline 'Relief for employers of foreign workers with high medical bills'. Print Edition | Subscribe