SINGAPORE - From March next year, the benefits offered by MediShield Life health insurance plan will be expanded, with a $50,000 increase in the annual policy claim limit to $150,000.
Treatments for attempted suicide, drug addiction and alcoholism will also be included under the mandatory basic health insurance plan.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (Dec 21) said the Government has accepted all the recommendations of the MediShield Life Council, which began reviewing the national insurance programme in 2018.
While premiums are set to increase by as much as 35 per cent under the first major review of the scheme since its launch, MOH said it will defer premium repayment until end December next year for those who do not have sufficient MediSave balances.
The Government has also said it will provide premium subsidies and support of up to $2.2 billion over the next three years.
This includes $1.8 billion for existing premium subsidies and support measures for lower and middle-income households, Pioneer Generation and Merdeka Generation seniors as well as the financially needy.
MediShield Life was launched in November 2015 to give Singaporeans and permanent residents lifelong protection against large medical bills from birth.
The ministry said the annual MediSave top-ups for Pioneer Generation seniors, which can be used to pay MediShield Life premiums, will be enhanced.
The financially needy can also apply for additional premium support, added MOH.
Besides subsidies, the support will also include a one-off Covid-19 subsidy for all Singapore citizens for two years to cushion the impact of premium adjustments during the pandemic.
The $360 million subsidy will cover 70 per cent of the net increase in premiums after taking into account existing subsidies in the first year, followed by 30 per cent in the second year.
Said the ministry: "These measures will keep the net premium increases for all Singapore citizens to no more than about 10 per cent in the first year."
Commenting on the changes, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong said on Monday: "MediShield Life was created to ensure that Singaporeans would be protected against large hospital bills for life. To ensure that the scheme can continue to be relevant and sustainable, the Government has accepted the MediShield Life Council's recommendations to enhance the scheme and adjust the premiums.
"We will provide up to $2.2 billion in premium subsidies and support, including an additional Covid-19 subsidy for all Singapore citizens.
"We will ensure that MediShield Life continues to provide coverage for all Singaporeans, for life, and ensure that the premiums remain affordable," he added.