Suggestions offered in ElderShield review

A review committee for the national severe disability insurance scheme, ElderShield, has suggested that the Government considers managing the scheme itself.

Now, when Singaporeans are auto-enrolled into ElderShield at age 40, they are assigned to one of three private insurers for the scheme: Aviva, Great Eastern Life Assurance Company, and NTUC Income.

One suggestion from the public is that this could be simplified by using a single provider, as is the case with the health insurance scheme, MediShield Life, the ElderShield Review Committee said yesterday in a statement.

About 600 Singaporeans have participated in focus group discussions regarding the scheme over the past six months.

ElderShield provides monthly payouts for up to six years to account holders who cannot carry out daily activities such as eating, dressing or bathing on their own.

The committee suggested that the Government could manage ElderShield but retain private insurers to provide the long-term care insurance. The Ministry of Health said it would study the suggestion and share its findings with the committee.

The review committee also said it had set up a claims assessment sub-committee to look into ways to improve the ElderShield claims process, and make it easier to navigate for severely disabled patients, caregivers and long-term care providers.

One area for improvement, raised by caregivers, was accessibility of information. Patients are often unaware about coverage or how to make a claim, they said.

To address this, the sub-committee is studying the types of care received by severely disabled patients in hospitals and other care settings to identify key points for providing information.

It is also studying how best to work with frontline staff to guide families more effectively through the claims application process.

The sub-committee comprises four members and is headed by Dr Loh Yik Hin, chief executive of St Andrew's Community Hospital.

Dr Loh said: "When a family member experiences severe disability, navigating the claims process may be stressful for the caregiver, especially when the care needs have drastically increased."

Mr Chaly Mah, chairman of the review committee, said feedback from the focus group sessions will be taken into account before the committee makes its recommendations in the first half of next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 07, 2017, with the headline 'Suggestions offered in ElderShield review'. Print Edition | Subscribe