THE Ministry of Health (MOH), determined to bust some myths about the cost of health care here, has produced a brochure to do the job.
Titled the Top 10 Common Myths Of Singapore Health Care, it sets out to help people navigate the health-care system and touches on hospital and chronic-care bills, the financial aid schemes available and medical insurance.
The brochures, in the four official languages, are available at places such as hospitals, polyclinics and community centres. An online version was put on the MOH website this month.
The following is a summarised version of MOH's responses to the 10 myths:
MYTH 1: Hospital bills are unaffordable.
Response: In the example cited, that of a $9,800 bill for an eight-day stay in hospital for a hip fracture, a C class patient pays nothing out of pocket, with the bill covered by the government subsidy, MediShield insurance and Medisave.
MYTH 2: Those who have MediShield do not need ElderShield.
Response: These insurance schemes cover different things. MediShield is for hospital treatment, and ElderShield, for long-term care expenses.
MYTH 3: With hospital means-testing, some people can no longer go to a B2 or C class ward.
Response: Anyone can choose these wards. The means-testing just decides on the amount of subsidy the patient receives.
MYTH 4: I can change between different integrated Shield plans without affecting my insurance coverage.
Response: This assumption is wrong because a new insurer may not cover you for a pre-existing illness.
However, the basic MediShield coverage, which all integrated plans include, will not be affected.
MYTH 5: I'm not working, so I cannot afford dialysis.
Response: The Government subsidises needy patients at the National Kidney Foundation and the Kidney Dialysis Foundation. Patients can also turn to the hospital's medical social worker for financial aid.
MYTH 6: There is no assistance available for nursing care for elderly, bed-ridden patients.
Response: The Government gives up to a 75 per cent subsidy. The Agency for Integrated Care can provide more information.
MYTH 7: I have to buy expensive insurance as MediShield and Medisave are not enough to cover my bills.
Response: MediShield and Medisave combined are enough to pay most hospital bills for patients in B2 or C class wards. More expensive insurance is for people who want to be treated in an A or B1 class ward.
MYTH 8: I don't have enough in my Medisave for my treatment.
Response: You can use the Medisave of your spouse, child or parent. If you are still unable to pay the bill, seek out the hospital's medical social worker.
MYTH 9: MediShield and Medisave can be used only for hospital treatment, and not for chronic illnesses.
Response: They can cover dialysis and some outpatient cancer treatments. From next year, up to $400 a year, rising from $300 now, from Medisave can be used to pay for treatment for 10 chronic ailments in public or private clinics.
MYTH 10: I'm young and have company coverage, so I don't need health insurance.
Response: Your company coverage ends when you stop working. If you develop a medical condition after you retire, for example, you may not be able to get insurance coverage.