Parliament: CareShield Life to get $100 million to help cover those with disabilities

From 2020, severely disabled Singapore residents will be able to tap Medisave for their long-term care needs and be supported by the new ElderFund.
From 2020, severely disabled Singapore residents will be able to tap Medisave for their long-term care needs and be supported by the new ElderFund.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Government will inject $100 million into the CareShield Life fund to defray the costs of covering Singaporeans with pre-existing disabilities.

Announcing this in Parliament on Tuesday (July 10), Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor noted that CareShield Life will provide universal coverage for all future cohorts of Singaporeans born in 1980 or later, regardless of financial, health, or disability status.

This means all Singaporeans in these cohorts will have basic protection for their long-term care should they become severely disabled, she added.

Less than 0.1 per cent of those aged 30 to 40 in 2020 may already be severely disabled when they first join CareShield Life that year, she said in response to Mr Gan Thiam Poh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC).

During the debate on CareShield Life, many MPs, including Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC), Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC), Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh, Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC), and Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) had asked why premiums differ according to gender.

A 30-year-old man in 2020 pays $200 in premiums, while a woman of the same age pays $250. Premiums are not fixed.

But Dr Khor said the gender differentiated premiums would remain.


She said: “Some may ask, why should we differentiate premiums between men and women if we say CareShield Life is an inclusive scheme?

"While we have designed CareShield Life to be inclusive, on balance, it is also important for the scheme to be equitable and sustainable. To that end, premiums must be actuarially sound."

She added: "The Committee did consider that women have less savings on average, and could therefore be better supported by the men.

"However, on balance, the Committee decided that applying gender-differentiated premiums for CareShield Life would more accurately reflect the differences in risk between men and women, and result in a more sustainable scheme."

Dr Khor cited both local and international statistics which showed women's longer life expectancy and their likelihood of staying disabled for a longer time than men.

Last year, the average life expectancy at birth for women was 85.2 years, compared to 80.7 years for men.

When taking into account the Health Ministry's projections that one in two Singaporeans at the age of 65 is expected to become severely disabled by the end of their lives, it means that three in five healthy women at that age are expected to become severely disabled, compared to two in five men.

A longitudinal survey of older Singaporeans in 2009 and 2011 to 2012, also found that women aged 60 are expected to spend nearly eight years requiring assistance with any of the activities of daily living (ADLs), compared to 2.6 years for men.

Only people with three ADLs qualify for CareShield Life payouts.

MPs also asked why CareShield Life is not optional for future cohorts, as some young Singaporeans may already have bought their own policies.

In response, Dr Khor said future cohorts need to be included so that the size of the risk pool can be maximised, keeping premiums affordable and ensuring that the scheme is sustainable.

"If the scheme is optional, those with pre-existing disabilities cannot be covered, as healthy Singaporeans would be more likely to opt out of the scheme," she added.

"Over time, the risk-pool would worsen, and the scheme would become unsustainable. Other vulnerable groups like the low-income may also drop out of the scheme because of an inability to pay."