A HIGH-POWERED team put together by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to design the new MediShield Life by May next year will be holding its first public discussion on Nov 27.
It is one of about 15 consultations, involving up to 50 people each, between now and March - all to help them understand the concerns of as wide a spectrum of people as possible.
This review committee's work to enlarge the national insurance scheme, MediShield, into one which covers every single resident regardless of age or health, started yesterday with its first meeting at NTUC Centre.
The panel will submit its recommendations in May, with the scheme targeted to start in 2015. Its key task: to raise benefits while maintaining affordability.
Headed by retired accountant and presidential adviser Bobby Chin, who promised to give regular updates, the 11-member team includes captains of industry, financial experts, health-care heads, grassroots leaders and a union leader. Many of them hope to speak up for the groups they represent.
Ms Diana Chia, president of NTUC, said it was good that workers' voice would be heard. She would be holding separate focus group discussions with members to get their input.
Mr Patrick Lee, chairman of Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, and Mr V. Tamilselvam, chairman of Cheng San Community Club, promised to put forward the concerns of the poor and needy, and those from the grassroots.
Lawyer Abdul Rohim Sarip, who is on the Medifund Advisory Council, also said he was familiar with the problems faced by people facing huge hospital bills.
Dr Lee Chien Earn, chief executive officer of Changi General Hospital, said the committee has a "challenging but meaningful task that will impact Singaporeans in a positive way".
Ms Janet Ang, managing director of IBM, said despite knowing it was going to be a lot of work, MediShield Life "is about putting the words 'inclusive society' into action, so how can I say no?"
Like her, the other 10 members said they had no hesitation in taking up the task of designing the new, comprehensive national insurance scheme.
Dr Tan See Leng, group CEO of Parkway Pantai, the largest private health-care provider here, said it took him only two minutes to agree to be on the committee.
Retired banker Oon Kum Loon said she is happy to help set up a scheme fair to all. Former insurance regulator Hauw Soo Hoon, having witnessed the evolution of MediShield over the years, sees this as an important step.
The final member of the team is deputy managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Mr Ong Chong Tee.
An MOH website - www. medishieldlife.sg - is seeking feedback on people's concerns in terms of health-care financing. The feedback required will change as discussions on how to implement the new MediShield Life become more concrete.
Those interested in participating in the discussion on Nov 27 can also sign up on that website.