Wednesday 4 November 2015

Free consultations on MediShield Life scheme at CCs

By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 3 Nov 2015

Those who have lingering questions about the new MediShield Life insurance scheme can now head to their nearest community clubs (CCs) for free consultations.

Weekly one-to-one sessions will be held at 39 CCs and residents' committee centres across the island to help explain the new compulsory health insurance scheme.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said on Monday (Nov 2) that these consultations, as opposed to public dialogues, will help residents understand the "more intimate details" of MediShield Life, which replaced MediShield from Sunday.

Mr Chan, who is also MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC and People's Association (PA) deputy chairman, was dropping in on one such consultation session at Tanjong Pagar CC.

He said: "When we do dialogue sessions and broad outreach, they cater to the general public.

"Because of the time limitations it'll be very difficult for residents to ask specific questions about their own cases.

"And some residents would also prefer a bit of privacy when asking their specific questions.

"So such one-to-one consultation is actually a great way to help the residents dispel any of the myths or worries that they might have," he said.

The sessions are held by PA and the Insurance and Financial Practitioners Association of Singapore (Ifpas). They were first piloted in Tanjong Pagar GRC from July, and were on Monday extended to six other group representation constituencies - Ang Mo Kio, Bishan-Toa Payoh, Chua Chu Kang, Marine Parade, Nee Soon and Tampines. They will be rolled out to most CCs in phases by next year.

During these consultations, Ifpas volunteers are not allowed to sell insurance policies, exchange personal contact numbers or promote any particular company's Integrated Shield Plans. PA staff, Ifpas leaders and grassroots volunteers will be on site to ensure that these guidelines are adhered to.

Ifpas president Leong Sow Hoe said more than 1,000 residents have attended their weekly sessions since they were introduced in July.

He noted that residents usually inquire about the difference between MediShield and MediShield Life, whether they should keep their private Integrated Shield Plans and whether they can afford the new premiums.

Most of those who attend the sessions are senior citizens, he added.

"When they come, we take them through things like affordability, the scheme enhancements and premiums. It's very conversational."

Quantity surveyor Nancy Wong, 66, said she found her consultation session on Monday useful.

Said the Tanjong Pagar resident: "We were a bit confused when MediShield Life was first announced.

"I wasn't sure if I should continue with my own private insurance plan. I didn't want any overlaps."

The free sessions will be held every Monday from 7pm to 9.30pm.

Those interested can make appointments at their respective CCs.

MediShield Life coverage has kicked in. Here are answers to 101 frequently asked questions:
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, November 1, 2015

Insurance agents taking tests on MediShield Life
Private IP insurers training staff to ensure they understand the scheme and are able to explain it to their clients
By Linette Lai, The Straits Times, 3 Nov 2015

Insurance agents have been taking lessons and tests to make sure they understand MediShield Life and are able to explain it to clients, said private insurance companies.

Common questions asked are whether or not people are paying for duplicate insurance coverage, and whether premiums and benefits for private Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) will change.

In response to queries, The Life Insurance Association (LIA) said that in addition to training staff, all five IP firms have sent information packs about the new scheme to their customers.

On Sunday, 3.9 million Singaporeans and permanent residents automatically came under MediShield Life, an improvement of the old MediShield.

Changes under MediShield Life include insurance coverage from birth to death, rather than stopping at age 92.

Claim limits for hospital bills and certain outpatient treatments are higher, and the lifetime cap of $300,000 that people could claim under MediShield previously has been lifted.

However, about two-thirds of Singaporeans and PRs have IPs, which build on what MediShield Life has to offer.

Premiums are often significantly higher for such plans to match the better coverage they provide, such as stays in Class A or private hospital wards.

At a MediShield Life dialogue for grassroots leaders last Saturday, a Health Ministry spokesman said that from now on, IP renewal letters will provide a breakdown of the MediShield Life and private components of the premiums, so that customers get a better idea of what they are paying for.

They will also list exclusions and applicable government subsidies. Last year, the five IP firms - AIA, Aviva, Great Eastern Life, NTUC Income and Prudential - paid out a total of $488 million in claims.

Grassroots leaders at last Saturday's dialogue said that many people still do not fully understand MediShield Life or how their IPs relate to them.

Unlike those in the Pioneer Generation, who have special ambassadors to help them understand the new scheme, people in their 40s and 50s need targeted help, said West Coast grassroots leader Chan Huan Chong.

"There are those who are maybe less well-off or less educated, and they are confused. The spotlight really needs to be on these people next," he said.

Fellow grassroots leader Teo Chuan Huat said: "(MediShield Life) is a very good plan, but people need to know how to use it."

On IP coverage and premiums
The Straits Times, 3 Nov 2015

Q Why am I paying for duplicate coverage - once for MediShield Life and once for my private Integrated Shield Plan (IP)?

A You are not paying for duplicate coverage.

IPs build on what MediShield Life has to offer, often providing better coverage for higher premiums.

From now on, your IP renewal letters will come with a breakdown of the MediShield Life and private insurance premiums, so that you know what you are paying for.

Q Since MediShield Life covers all pre-existing conditions, does that mean my private insurer will do the same?

A No, it does not. Private providers make their own underwriting decisions for the extra coverage under IPs. If you have exclusions on your IP coverage, think about where you get treatment for these conditions, as MediShield Life coverage is not targeted at Class B1, A, or private-hospital stays.

Q What should I do now that MediShield Life is launched? Should I cancel my private IP?

A That is up to you, but here are several questions you should ask yourself:

Do you want to stay in Class B1, A, or private hospitals? Do you want to choose your own doctor? MediShield Life coverage is not targeted at these.

Can you afford to pay for your IP premiums in the long term, even after you retire? IP premiums will rise significantly as you age. Ask your insurance agent for an indication of premiums when you are in your 70s and 80s.

Q Are my IP premiums going to go up?

A The Life Insurance Association, which represents the five IP providers, has pledged that the private insurance portion of IP premiums will not go up for one year after the start of MediShield Life.

However, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said last Saturday that private insurers have not adjusted IP premiums for the past two to three years even though claims have gone up, and that they will have to do so eventually.

In my dialogue with residents, many of them had questions about MediShield Life, they wanted to find out more about...
Posted by Chan Chun Sing on Monday, November 2, 2015

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