Introduced towards the end of 2015, MediShield Life is Singapore’s universal health insurance plan. It covers all Singapore’s citizens and Permanent Residents. The insurance premium for MediShield Life is paid from each individual’s Central Provident Fund Medisave account.
Those who cannot afford the premium are provided with subsidies. The stated intention is that every Singaporean will be provided with a basic level of health care regardless of age or pre-existing medical conditions.
What are the benefits under MediShield Life?
Every individual is entitled to a maximum claim amount of S$100,000 per year. This limit gets renewed every year and there is no lifetime limit.
One of the greatest advantages of MediShield Life is that every pre-existing condition is covered. Private insurers are often reluctant to provide this type of coverage as it could require them to make large payments.
Here are some of the other benefits that MediShield Life offers:
Inpatient treatment/day surgery claim limits
Daily ward and treatment charges (1-4)
| || |
S$700 per day
| || |
S$1,200 per day
| || |
S$350 per day
| || |
S$100 per day
S$200 – S$2,000
S$7,000 per treatment
S$4,800 per procedure
Outpatient treatment claim limits
Chemotherapy for cancer
S$3,000 per month
Radiotherapy for cancer
S$140 to S$500 per session
S$1,000 per month
The details given above provide a general idea about the limits that are applicable to MediShield Life claims. However, patients are required to bear a certain portion of their medical costs. This amount falls into two categories. The first, is the “deductible,” a sum that is required to be paid before the insurer begins to pay. The deductible in MediShield Life varies between S$1,200 and S$3,000 depending on the ward category and the age of the patient.
In addition to the deductible, the policyholder is also required to bear the co-insurance amount. This could range from 3% to 10% of the total claimable amount.
Is it possible to get greater medical coverage? Yes!
Singaporeans can opt to increase their medical insurance coverage by buying an Integrated Shield Plan (IP). In fact, 60% of Singaporeans have private insurance in the form of IPs.
The following are IPs provided by various private insurers:
- AIA HealthShield Gold Max
- Aviva MyShield
- AXA Shield
- Great Eastern SupremeHealth
- Prudential PruShield
It is important to remember that IPs comprise two components. There is a MediShield Life component and an additional private insurance coverage component. You would pay a consolidated premium to your IP provider. The private insurer would be responsible for coordinating insurance premiums and claims with the Central Provident Fund, which runs the MediShield Life program.
What are the additional benefits that IPs provide? Each insurer has different plans and it is a good idea to understand what is on offer before finalising your insurance. Broadly speaking, you will be entitled to greater insurance coverage in addition to possibly getting the facility of staying in a private ward as well as choosing your own doctor.
Take the example of Aviva’s MyShield plan. Individuals who opt for MyShield will get the facility of staying in a private ward or a Class A (1 bedder) or B1 (4 bedder) ward. They will also get the benefit of pre-hospital treatment up to 90 days prior to admission.
Additionally, policyholders will benefit from post-hospital treatment for a period of 180 days after discharge. The MyShield plan also provides the facility of selecting your own doctor and you can also stay in a community hospital for up to 45 days per year.
Standard Integrated Shield Plan
The IPs that the different insurers provide can be difficult to compare as they offer varied benefits. To address this issue, the Ministry of Health has worked with IP insurers and arranged for the introduction of a Standard Integrated Shield Plan (Standard IP).
Standard IPs offer exactly the same benefits across insurers. This makes it easy to compare different plans. For example, the daily ward and treatment charges are limited to S$1,700 per day. The limit for the ICU ward is S$2,900 per day.
Should you take additional insurance coverage?
While it is true that MediShield Life offers basic protection, the limits are quite low. Large numbers of Singaporeans have enhanced their medical coverage by opting for IPs. However, one factor that held some people back was the difficulty in identifying the plan that offered the greatest value for their insurance premium payments.
This problem has been solved to a large extent by the introduction of Standard IPs.
But the cost of additional coverage can be high. The Standard IP premium before MediShield Life subsidies for a 50-year-old is between S$511 and S$568. This is significantly higher than the annual MediShield Life premium of S$435. Integrated Shield Plans can be even more expensive.
If you can afford to pay the higher insurance premium, it is advisable to opt for an IP or a Standard IP as early as possible. This will enable you to get additional coverage at a lower cost as insurance coverage gets more expensive as you age.
(By Ravinder Kapur)