Buying an IP? Factor in usage, premium cost: Gan Kim Yong

Nurses from KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital speaking with a patient. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singaporeans need to "consider very carefully the purchase of integrated plans (IPs)" that cover them for private healthcare treatment, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

While this is a personal decision, he said: "We encourage them to consider two important factors."

One is whether they intend to use A or B1 wards, or private hospitals, should they need treatment.

Currently, 60 per cent to 70 per cent of people with such plans actually use a lower class of service than they are covered for.

"If their intention is to use government subsidised services, B2 or C class wards, then maybe it is not necessary to purchase IPs," he said.

The other consideration is whether they are prepared to pay the higher IP premiums, especially as they grow older, as premiums are significantly higher with age.

He suggested people discuss this with their insurance agents. They should ask for an indication of what their premiums will be like in 10 or 20 years' time.

However, he added, there might be people who want private services when young and subsidised care when they get old."There are people who decide that while they're working, they would prefer to have private services and therefore they'd purchase an IP."

"They are quite happy to revert to MediShield Life when they grow old and enjoy the lower premiums and the subsidised services."

There is nothing wrong with such a decision, he said.

"It depends on their attitude and own personal preference. But the basic point is that MediShield Life is adequate for government hospital subsidised services."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2015, with the headline Buying an IP? Factor in usage, premium cost: Gan Kim Yong. Subscribe