Did you know that if you are a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, you are covered by MediShield Life? In addition, did you know that two-thirds of Singaporeans and Permanent Residents have bought Integrated Shield Plans?
Wait, wait, wait… start from the beginning… what is MediShield Life and what is an Integrated Shield Plan?
MediShield Life is an enhanced version of MediShield, and was launched last year. Now, every Singapore Citizen and Permanent Resident is covered for life, including the very old and those with pre-existing medical conditions. There is also no lifetime claim limit (and the annual claim limit has been increased to $100,000), which means you no longer need to worry that your coverage will stop, even if you incur high medical expenses early in life.
Other benefits, such as the daily ward and surgical claim limits, have also changed for the better. In other words, MediShield Life is a significant improvement to our previous MediShield coverage.
Integrated Shield Plans, or IPs, are made up of MediShield Life and additional private insurance coverage provided by private insurers such as AIA, Aviva, AXA Life, Great Eastern Life, Income and Prudential. You get additional coverage beyond MediShield Life, targeted at Class B1 or A wards in public hospitals or private hospitals, but for a significantly higher premium. Think of IPs as an upsized meal – you get more but it also costs more.
But the launch of MediShield Life last year may have caused some confusion. Let’s clear them up:
MYTH 1: If we have an Integrated Shield Plan, then we don’t need to pay for our MediShield Life premiums, right?
I said earlier that IPs are like an upsized fast-food meal. When you upsize your meal, nothing happens to the main course. The burger remains the same size, and you’re still paying the same price for it. The additional cost goes towards paying for the increased size of the fries and drink.
In the same way, when you sign up for an IP, you’re still paying for MediShield Life coverage. The extra premium you pay is for the additional coverage that the IP gives you, such as higher ward class coverage and additional benefits like pre- and post-hospitalisation benefits (excluding riders, co-insurance and deductibles).
Here are 2 other misconceptions Singaporeans have about MediShield Life and IPs:
MYTH 2: MediShield Life doesn’t give me enough coverage, that’s why I need an Integrated Shield Plan
Just as you don’t need to upsize your meal if the basic meal fills you up, you may also not need the extra coverage that an Integrated Shield Plan can give you. MediShield Life gives you enough coverage, especially if you want to stay in a Class B2 or C ward in public hospitals when you are hospitalised.
Why then do people want to upsize their meals? Because we may prefer to eat a larger meal, with more fries and drinks. In the same way, we may want to stay in a higher ward class in a public hospital, or even a private hospital if we need to be hospitalised, and the IPs target coverage at this level.
Note that MediShield Life does cover you even if you are hospitalised in a Class A or B1 ward or in a private hospital– just expect to end up paying significantly more because MediShield Life benefits are pegged to the estimated Class B2 and C wards expenses in public hospitals.
MYTH 3: MediShield Life premiums are too expensive!
The launch of MediShield Life means that although premiums have increased compared to the previous MediShield, many Singaporeans are also eligible for subsidies to offset the increase. For example, the Pioneer Generation receive subsidies of up to 60% while those in lower- to middle-income households receive subsidies of up to 50%. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us don’t get subsidies as well!
For the first 4 years of MediShield Life (starting from November 2015), all Singapore Citizens are eligible for transitional subsidies, which are applied to the net increase in MediShield Life premiums (over MediShield premiums).
So, if you’re 31 – 40 years of age, and not in the lower- to middle income group, you can expect to pay $167 for MediShield Life premiums after transitional subsidies this year. This comes to $14 a month, or less than $1 a day. Even your morning coffee costs more! Despite the increase in the cost of premiums, therefore, premiums are still affordable.
Know someone who is part of the Pioneer Generation and in their early 70s? Their monthly premium after Pioneer Generation subsidies is $41 a month, or less than $2 a day. And don’t forget, as affordable as MediShield Life premiums are, they won’t even affect your cashflow since you can pay for it fully using your Medisave account.
But again, we’re not saying that MediShield Life is better than an IP.
It all comes down to your ward preferences and whether you can afford to pay the higher premiums of IPs. Are you satisfied with sharing a Class B2 or C ward with others? Then you may wish to stick to the coverage MediShield Life offers. The proportion of patients in subsidised wards of Class B2 and C wards had increased to 80 per cent in 2014, from 70 per cent in 2000.1
But if you prefer more privacy, choosing your doctor and air-conditioned rooms, and can afford to pay higher premiums in the longer run, then you may wish to purchase an IP for this additional coverage.
Do you have further questions about MediShield Life?
Pop down to the MediShield Life Roadshow on Sunday, 27 November 2016, 11am – 6pm, at Ang Mo Kio Central Stage, beside Jubilee Square (720 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6) to find out more on MediShield Life and IPs.
1 ‘More patients choosing C-class wards for subsidies’, The Straits Times, 18 Jul, 2015