Equality, one of the foundational values on which Singapore has been built, was in the news recently following the unveiling of CareShield Life, the long-term care insurance scheme to meet the needs of an ageing population. CareShield is also the product of qualities that stood Singapore well over the years - pragmatism and financial prudence that guide decision-making; and a forward-looking attitude in which policy planners aim to anticipate and address problems that lie beyond the horizon, in this instance, the growing societal burdens that will come as the population ages.
The national insurance scheme is an important component of social safety nets here, given that by 2030, one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. With increased longevity and greater numbers of senior citizens, there will be more older people who require long-term care because of age-related disabilities. While CareShield was generally well received, its higher premiums for women have proved controversial. This is where a review or adjustments to premiums may be warranted before its launch in 2020. The reasons cited for higher premiums for women are that they live longer than men, and are expected to need longer years of disability support in old age.