All Singaporeans are covered by MediShield Life for the most basic of medical coverage. But on top of MediShield Life, an estimated 64% of Singaporeans are also paying for an integrated shield plan from one of six private insurers, including AXA, the latest private insurer to be allowed to offer integrated shield plans to Singaporeans.
They bring with them three options for their integrated shield plans, which means Singaporeans now have a total of 22 options to choose from. That’s as many options as California Pizza Kitchen has pizzas.
But believe it or not, it’s easier to choose an integrated shield plan from among the 22 than to choose a pizza for dinner. This is because there are just three things you need to look out for when making your choice. Length of coverage, limit of coverage, breadth of coverage, and lastly, price plays a key part as well.
1. Just how long are you covered for?
While it is important for health insurance to cover expensive hospitalisation costs, it is often pre-hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation that may end up costing more than any amount of surgery. This is because major illnesses like heart attacks, cancer and stroke, and even major accidents, often take several months to recover from.
All integrated shield plans cover you for pre-hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation treatment “as charged”. “As charged” means there is no limit on claims for eligible expenses. However, the actual length of cover differs. Here’s how the six integrated shield plans compare for Class A wards.
|Integrated Shield Plan||Pre-hospitalisation/Post-hospitalisation cover|
|AXA Shield Plan B||180 days/365 days|
|Prudential PruShield A Plus||180 days/180 days|
|Great Eastern Supreme Health A Plus||120 days/120 days|
|AIA HealthShield Gold Max B||100 days/100 days|
|NTUC Income Enhanced IncomeShield Advantage||90 days/90 days|
|Aviva MyShield Plan 2||90 days/90 days|
It’s important to note that MediShield Life does not cover pre-hospitalisation and post-hospitalisation treatment. This additional coverage is only found in private integrated shield plans.
2. Coverage limit
It’s a mistake to think you’re saving money by choosing an integrated shield plan with a lower premium. In many cases, lower premiums mean lower coverage. Doesn’t make sense to scrimp on your integrated shield plan premium, and then find out after the fact that it doesn’t cover your entire medical bill. Instead of saving money, you’ll end up spending more should you get medical help. Essentially, you’re gambling that you won’t fall sick.
A good integrated shield plan will cover most of your medical bills, but be careful about the annual coverage limit. This refers to how much you can claim up to each year. The last thing you want is to exceed this limit and end up paying out of your pocket.
Here are some of the largest annual coverage limits available on the market today. Again, we’ll look at coverage up to Class A wards.
|Integrated Shield Plan||Annual Coverage Limit|
|AXA Shield Plan B||$550,000|
|NTUC Income Enhanced IncomeShield Advantage||$500,000|
|AIA HealthShield Gold Max B||$450,000|
|Great Eastern Supreme Health A Plus||$400,000|
|Aviva MyShield Plan 2||$400,000|
|Prudential PruShield A Plus||$391,100|
Just to put things in perspective, according to the Ministry of Health, the cost of a week’s hospitalisation in a Class A ward for a major procedure like open heart surgery is about $35,000 on average and can cost more than $45,000 in some cases.
3. Price of premiums
While it should not be the most important thing you consider when choosing an integrated shield plan, the cost of the annual premiums should still be a factor. This is because the last thing you want is to have your cashflow affected by a premium that is beyond your ability to pay.
Wonder how much an integrated shield plan would cost you if you’re between 31 – 35 years of age? For comparison purposes, let’s look only at Class A plans.
|Integrated Shield Plan||Annual Premium|
|Great Eastern Supreme Health A Plus||$413|
|NTUC Income Enhanced IncomeShield Advantage||$414|
|Prudential PruShield A Plus||$423|
|AIA HealthShield Gold Max B||$463|
|AXA Shield Plan B||$466|
|Aviva MyShield Plan 2||$472.21|
(Note: this cost includes the MediShield Life premium of $310 per year for this age group.)
There are two things that I need to point out at this point.
Firstly, the premium for MediShield Life can be fully paid from your Medisave account, and recently, new additional withdrawal limits (or AWLs) have been introduced so that a portion of your integrated shield plan premium can also be paid from Medisave. For those aged 31 – 35, this AWL is $300.
Unfortunately, premiums for integrated shield plans go up with age, and while the AWL also increases as you age, it’s not enough to cover your entire premium. This essentially means that, at a certain age, you will start paying for your integrated shield plan premium with cash. So do be prepared for that, so that you’re not caught off guard.
On that note, it must also be pointed out that while most of these premiums will remain the same from ages 31 to 40, NTUC Income charges $24 more per year after the age of 35, making them slightly more expensive compared to Prudential.
So in summary, here’s how the integrated shield plans compare for Class A wards:
|Integrated Shield Plan||Pre-hospitalisation/Post-hospitalisation cover||Annual Coverage Limit||Annual Premium (31 – 35 years old)|
|AXA Shield Plan B||180 days/365 days||$550,000||$466|
|Prudential PruShield A Plus||180 days/180 days||$391,100||$423|
|Great Eastern Supreme Health A Plus||120 days/120 days||$400,000||$413|
|AIA HealthShield Gold Max B||100 days/100 days||$450,000||$463|
|NTUC Income Enhanced IncomeShield Advantage||90 days/90 days||$500,000||$414|
|Aviva MyShield Plan 2||90 days/90 days||$400,000||$472.21|
Ultimately, while the cost of an annual premium is important, what’s more crucial is that you should pick an integrated shield plan based on the level of coverage you require.
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