SINGAPORE - People who are unvaccinated by choice and come down with Covid-19 will have to foot their own medical bills from Dec 8, in a move that Health Minister Ong Ye Kung described as an "important signal" to those who are still holding off on getting their jabs.
Speaking on Monday (Nov 8) during a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, which he co-chairs, Mr Ong said hospitals would much prefer not having to bill these patients. He urged everyone to get vaccinated if they are eligible.
The change comes as those who are unvaccinated make up the majority of patients who require intensive inpatient care and disproportionately contribute to the strain on Singapore's healthcare resources.
The Government currently foots the full Covid-19 medical bills of all Singaporeans, permanent residents (PRs) and long-term pass holders, other than for those who tested positive or had onset of Covid-19 symptoms within 14 days of arrival in Singapore after overseas travel.
The new billing measure applies only to those who choose not to be vaccinated despite being medically eligible, and who are admitted to hospitals and Covid-19 treatment facilities on or after Dec 8.
Mr Ong said: "Billing will still be based on our current subsidy framework, subject to MediSave use and MediShield Life claims, so it will still be highly supported and highly subsidised."
Those who are ineligible for vaccination, such as children under 12 years old, and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will continue to have their bills fully covered by the Government, the task force said.
It noted that the Government's current measure to fully cover Covid-19 medical bills for Singaporeans, PRs and long-term pass holders, apart from those who travelled recently, was to avoid financial concerns adding to public uncertainty when Covid-19 was an emergent and unfamiliar disease.
This approach for Covid-19 bills will continue for the majority of the population here who are vaccinated until the coronavirus situation is more stable, added the task force.
Meanwhile, individuals who are partially vaccinated will not be charged for Covid-19 bills until Dec 31, to allow them time to complete their full regimen of jabs. After this deadline, they will have to foot their own medical bills if they catch Covid-19.
This means that from Jan 1, only Singaporeans, PRs or long-term pass holders who are fully vaccinated and have not recently travelled will have their Covid-19 medical bills fully paid for by the Government.
The task force said that Covid-19 patients who choose not to be vaccinated may still tap regular healthcare financing arrangements to pay for their bills where applicable.
Singapore citizens and PRs may access regular government subsidies and MediShield Life or Integrated Shield plans, while long-term pass holders may tap their usual financing such as private insurance.