Bilateral arrangement travellers can tap subsidies, insurance for Covid-19 treatment

Travellers checking in at Changi Airport Terminal 3 departure hall on June 8, 2020. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - From Friday (Aug 7), Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) allowed to travel overseas and who develop Covid-19 will be able to tap government subsidies, Medishield Life and Integrated Shield Plans for their hospital treatment.

Those who travel under permitted arrangements can tap these financing schemes if symptoms appear within 14 days of their return to Singapore, and pay any remaining co-payment.

Likewise, long-term passholders who travel under permitted arrangements will be able to tap financing arrangements like foreign worker insurance for their treatment.

Permitted travel arrangements include bilateral travel arrangements with Malaysia and China, and any that may be implemented in future.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced this change in charging policy at a virtual press conference on Thursday.

Currently, the Government foots the inpatient medical bills for Singaporeans, PRs and long-term pass holders who are treated for Covid-19 at public healthcare institutions.

Those who breach existing travel advisories are responsible for their own medical bills.

Since March 27, Singaporeans, PRs and long-term passholders who travel overseas have had to pay for their own inpatient medical bills in full if they have onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore.

They were also unable to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans in public and private hospitals.

But as the Government gradually reopens its borders, it will allow Singaporeans, PRs and long-term passholders who travel under permitted arrangements to tap existing financial schemes from Friday.

Mr Gan added: "Those who are not travelling under the permitted travel arrangements, and instead travel in breach of the travel advisories, will continue to pay for their Covid-19 inpatient medical bills in full."

He also said short-term pass holders entering Singapore under the permitted travel arrangements will have to bear the cost of their medical bills, should they test positive for the coronavirus infection within 14 days of arrival in Singapore.

Applications for cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia for long-term pass holders and travellers on essential business and official visits will start next Monday.

On June 8, Singapore began gradually reopening its borders by launching a "fast lane" agreement with China, which allowed the resumption of essential business and official travel between both countries.

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