Coronavirus: Singapore Government to foot bills of infected patients at public hospitals, except outpatient expenses

Health insurance policyholders with Integrated Shield Plans and riders from major general insurers will be covered for hospitalisation expenses related to the novel coronavirus. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The Government is paying for hospital bills incurred by coronavirus patients in public hospitals, but this coverage does not extend to outpatient treatment, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times on Wednesday (Feb 12), MOH said all patients suspected of being infected by the coronavirus, which causes the disease officially called Covid-19, must be admitted to hospitals for isolation and management to prevent community transmission.

"The Government will pay the hospital bill in full for such admissions in public hospitals, which are required for public health reasons," it said.

This coverage does not extend to outpatient treatment at general practitioner clinics or polyclinics, nor does it apply to treatment sought at private medical facilities.

All confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease, now called Covid-19, are currently treated at public hospitals.

However, health insurance policyholders may be covered for other medical expenses incurred as a result of the virus, depending on the plans purchased.

The General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA) and the Life Insurance Association, Singapore (LIA) said in a statement on Tuesday that policyholders with Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) and riders from insurers will be covered for hospitalisation expenses related to the coronavirus.

IPs and riders provide coverage on top of MediShield Life for hospitalisation bills incurred at private hospitals or Class A wards at public hospitals as well as pre- and post-hospitalisation expenses, depending on the plan chosen by the buyer as well as the insurer.

This coverage applies to people with IP policies from insurers who are members of LIA, such as AIA, NTUC Income and Prudential.

Many non-IP individual and group health insurance policies will also provide coverage for medical expenses related to the coronavirus, the associations added.

AIA, NTUC Income and Prudential Singapore said their IP plans cover pre- and post-hospitalisation medical costs on top of hospitalisation expenses related to the novel coronavirus, with the extent of coverage subject to policy benefits. This can include expenses from visits to polyclinics and general practitioner clinics.

AIA added that its AIA Hospital Income plan provides a cash payout for each day the insured is hospitalised in a hospital due to the coronavirus.

Policyholders are advised to approach their financial adviser and/or insurer to find out more about their insurance benefits and terms and conditions in their policies, the two insurance associations added.

"Employers with group policies are also advised to review their group policy documents and engage their insurers about the coverage," the associations said.

The first confirmed case of the coronavirus in Singapore was announced on Jan 23, with most of the initial cases imported from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus outbreak in China.

Since then, several clusters of local transmissions have emerged and Singapore raised its disease outbreak response level to orange on Feb 7.

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