If there’s one thing the classic Morgan Spurlock documentary “Super Size Me” taught me, it’s this: It doesn’t make sense to spend more to upsize your fast food meal. Your burger is not going to get bigger. You are, as you eat more of those artery clogging fries that you just added. Why would you pay more to put yourself at a greater health risk?
Now, insurance is not like fast food. It’s often important to ensure that you “upsize” your insurance to ensure you’re sufficiently covered. When it comes to health insurance, think of MediShield Life as the basic meal. What is an upsized meal, then? It’s known as an Integrated Shield Plan.
What is an Integrated Shield Plan and why would I want to be covered by it if I already have MediShield Life?
Now, we know that every Singaporean is covered by MediShield Life and will need to pay annual premiums that are slightly higher that the old MediShield.
(However, for the next four years, the government will be subsidising the cost of MediShield Life for most of us. The amount of subsidy you get is based on your household income, the value of your home and also depends on whether you’re a Citizen or Permanent Resident.)
MediShield Life covers you for hospitalisation and treatment regardless of which ward class you choose. However, the coverage is based on the costs of Class B2/C wards. That means it will not cover most of your costs if you choose to go with a Class B1/A ward in public hospitals, or private hospitals.* Integrated Shield Plans provide that additional coverage.
(*UPDATED 16/12/2015: I originally stated that MediShield Life does not cover hospitalisation and treatment in Class B1 and Class A wards in public hospitals, or private hospitals. That is not correct. Thanks to reader Steven Lee for pointing that out.)
In fact, you may already have an Integrated Shield Plan without realising it
According to the Ministry of Health, 60% of Singaporeans are already paying the premiums for an Integrated Shield Plan. This means that you may already be eligible for additional coverage at private hospitals or Class A and Class B1 wards in public hospitals without realising. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many of us actually do not realise that we are paying an annual premium for an Integrated Shield Plan.
You can actually find out if you’re already covered by an Integrated Shield Plan by logging into CPF’s website with your SingPass. Unfortunately, CPF’s website is having problems this month, so you might have problems accessing it. I did. Once you’re able to log into your CPF account, go to “My Messages” and look under the “Insurance” section. That will tell you what plan you’re currently under.
Alternatively, thanks to an awesome suggestion by reader Kevin Wong, visit the MediShield Life website and click “Premium Check” on the main navigation bar. Log in using your Singpass there and it’ll tell you if you’re covered.
If it is one of these five:
- AIA HealthShield Gold Max
- Aviva MyShield
- Great Eastern SupremeHealth
- NTUC Income IncomeShield
- Prudential PruShield
Then you’re covered by an Integrated Shield Plan.
What does an Integrated Shield Plan cover, exactly, compared to MediShield Life?
For the sake of simplicity, let’s take a basic illustration.
MediShield Life covers you up to $700 per day for normal hospital ward charges, regardless of ward class. You will need to pay $2,000 for a Class B2 ward (or above) as a deductible, as well as up to 10% as co-insurance. This means that if your bill is $5,000, you only need to pay $2,000 as a deductible and $300 (10% of $3,000) as co-insurance. MediShield Life can cover up to $2,700 or 54% of your bill.
Depending on which Integrated Shield Plan you’re on, you may be covered for your entire medical bill, whether in a private hospital, Class A or Class B1 ward. For a Class B1 ward, your deductible is $3,750 and up to 10% in co-insurance. That means that if your bill is $10,000, you only need to pay $3,750 as a deductible and $625 (10% of $6,250) in co-insurance. The Integrated Shield Plan covers $5,625 or 56.25% of your bill.
If that still seems expensive, remember that if your bill is $15,000, you will still only need to pay $3,750 as a deductible and $1,125 (10% of $11,250) in co-insurance. The Integrated Shield Plan covers $10,125 or 67.5% of your bill.
That means that the higher your bill, the more peace of mind you have with an Integrated Shield Plan.
But do I really need an Integrated Shield Plan? Isn’t going to a private hospital or Class A/B1 ward going to be expensive?
Naturally, Class A and Class B1 wards will cost you more than Class B2 or Class C. However, you won’t have to share the room with too many other patients, and you will also be able to choose your own doctor, among other features. Normally, these benefits would cost you hundreds of dollars more per day. For example, a Class A ward would cost about $450 per day, while a Class B1 ward costs about $250 per day, compared to about $75 per day (after subsidies) for Class B2.
However, as we pointed out earlier, an Integrated Shield Plan will cover a majority of your hospitalisation costs, meaning you don’t need to worry about shortening your treatment.
How much will it cost me to be covered by an Integrated Shield Plan?
As with all insurance plans, the premiums get higher as you grow older. If you’re between 31 to 40 years of age, you technically need to pay $310 per year for MediShield Life.
Depending on which Integrated Shield Plan you’re on, the premium you pay for an Integrated Shield Plan that covers you for Class B1 wards, for example, will cost between $360 to $420 per year (if you’re between 31 to 40 years old). And this already includes the MediShield Life premium. That means you’re only paying $50 to $110 on top of MediShield Life each year for additional coverage in a Class B1 ward.
What about Class A wards or private hospitals?
Assuming you’re between 31 to 40 years old, the premiums for Class A ward coverage costs between $394 to $472, depending on the Integrated Shield Plan. That’s only $84 to $162 more than MediShield Life.
For private hospitals, premiums can go up to $588. Sure, that’s about $278 more per year, but remember that you are covered for private hospitalisation. You could be saving thousands of dollars should you be hospitalised.
But if the thought of spending up to $278 more in insurance premiums seems like too much right now, remember that you can pay this entire amount via your Medisave account. That means you don’t have to pay a single cent from your pocket, and your cashflow won’t be affected.
So should I get an Integrated Shield Plan or not?
The more important question is how much do you want to pay if you get hospitalised? MediShield Life only covers you up to $700 per day. An Integrated Shield Plan usually covers you “as charged”. This means they’ll pay for the entire bill, less the deductible, the co-insurance and any other terms.
And if you already are paying for an Integrated Shield Plan, then take advantage of it to upgrade to a higher Class ward so that you can enjoy the benefits of the ward without too much worry about how much you’ll need to pay when you get discharged.
So give your financial advisor a call today. They’ll be glad to hear from you.
What do you think of Integrated Shield Plans? Are they worth your money? We want to hear from you.