Tuesday 24 July 2012

Health Minister on MediShield enhancements

By S Ramesh, Channel NewsAsia, 22 Jul 2012

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has stressed the importance of insurance in a country's healthcare financing.

He said the government wants to encourage lower-income families to be covered by its insurance scheme, MediShield.

Mr Gan said this in response to questions from reporters, on his ministry's plan to provide wider coverage from the first quarter of next year.

He said it has to calibrate MediShield enhancements very carefully, including extending coverage for congenital and neo-natal conditions.

"We also are concerned that, whether by introducing this additional insurance, we will actually increase the cost of treatment. Because once it is covered by insurance, parents and doctors may pursue more expensive treatment and overall, this may raise the cost of healthcare for children in Singapore," said Mr Gan.

"We need to calibrate it so that there is a balance between benefits covered by the insurance, as well as the cost of the insurance premium, to ensure that the benefits remain relevant and effective and at the same time, the premium remains affordable," he added.

Mr Gan was speaking to the media at the end of his Ministerial walkabout to the Bukit Timah division of the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

With the enhancements, patients will be able to claim more - up to S$70,000 for their hospital bills annually, compared with the current S$50,000.

The lifetime limit will be increased from S$200,000 to S$300,000 to help policyholders who face exceptionally large bills, such as undergoing multiple surgeries after an accident.

The Health Ministry said MediShield deductibles will also be adjusted accordingly, as medical bills have become more expensive over the years.

With the extended coverage and payouts, MediShield premiums will have to be raised.

But the Health Ministry said for the vast majority of policyholders, the increase in premiums will be less than S$10 a month.

And with the additional government support given at this year's Budget, Singaporeans aged 65 and below will have to fork out no more than S$5 per month in the next two years.

For the elderly, their premiums will be largely offset by the annual and one-time Medisave top-ups.

They will, in fact, see a decrease in premiums payable.


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