The article was first published on Oct 31, 2015. It was edited on Nov 2, 2015.
Any resident who is warded in hospital from midnight tonight will be covered under the new compulsory health insurance MediShield Life, which will take care of a larger portion of big medical bills than MediShield, to be replaced by the new scheme at that point.
However, patients already in hospital by today will be reimbursed under MediShield and not the new scheme, even if they are discharged after the handover deadline.
The difference in coverage can be significant. For example, Medi- Shield pays out up to $450 for daily ward and treatment charges, while MediShield Life will pay out up to $700.
While the deductible - the initial amount a patient has to pay before insurance kicks in - remains the same at $1,500 to $3,000 a year, depending on ward class and the patient's age, the co-payment or the patient's share of the rest of the bill falls from 20 per cent to 10 per cent.
The co-payment falls to 3 per cent when the claimable portion of the medical bill tops $10,000 a year. Under MediShield, it was 10 per cent.
The deductible and the co-payment are based on accumulation of bills over a one-year period, and not on each hospitalisation.
While there is a $100,000 limit on claims made in a year, there is no limit on the amount that a person can claim during his lifetime.
The new scheme will cover all 3.9 million Singaporeans and permanent residents from birth till death, unlike the current scheme where coverage stops at the age of 92.
It will also include the 25,000 people already suffering from serious ailments, some of whom will likely make claims under MediShield Life almost immediately.
The insurance will also cover some outpatient treatments, such as kidney dialysis and chemotherapy to treat cancer. But it will not pay for aesthetic or maternity treatments or when injuries are self-inflicted.
Because of the higher coverage, MediShield Life premiums will be higher, but two out of three people will enjoy a subsidy of between 15 per cent and 50 per cent on their premiums.
The Government will also pay 40 per cent to 60 per cent of premiums for pioneers, or Singaporeans who were 65 years or older last year.
Also, anyone who has to pay premiums that are higher than their MediShield premiums will get 90 per cent of the difference covered by the transitional subsidy in the first year - which means they will have to pay only 10 per cent of the difference.
This subsidy falls to 70, 40, 20 and 0 per cent in subsequent years.
Those already covered by either MediShield or a private integrated plan (IP) must pay only the higher premium when their premiums are next due. But they will enjoy the higher coverage from tomorrow.
MediShield Life provides cover for subsidised treatment. Those who want private treatment need additional coverage which is provided by IPs, which automatically include MediShield Life. So people with IPs do not need to do anything.
MediShield Life premiums can be fully covered by Medisave, so no cash payment is needed.