Proposed new MediShield Life premiums could rise by up to 35% in 2023

Elderly men look on in Singapore on June 19, 2020, as restrictions to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus are eased. - Restaurants, retail shops and most other businesses reopened in Singapore on June 19 as the virus-hit city-state eased curbs, but the city-state's leader cautioned residents "not to go overboard celebrating". (Photo by Roslan RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Elderly men in Chinatown on 19 June 2020. (PHOTO: AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Proposed MediShield Life changes may see life premiums rising by up to 35 per cent for certain age groups in 2023, among other preliminary recommendations made by the MediShield Life Council.

“Premiums need to be adjusted periodically to support enhancements that provide better coverage and higher payouts, and to keep pace with healthcare cost inflation and actual claims experience,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (29 September) in a press statement.

“In particular, MediShield Life payouts have increased by close to 40 per cent over the last four years, and the number of claimants has increased by almost 30 per cent. The MediShield Life Council recommends adjusting the premiums this round as proposed by the actuary to ensure that the scheme continues to be sustainable,” it added.

As part of an ongoing review, the MediShield Life Council will conduct a public consultation to seek views from the public on the preliminary recommendations and suggestions for enhancements to the scheme.

The public consultation will be held from 6pm on Tuesday to 6pm on 20 October.

According to the tables listed in the public consultation documents, for the proposed revised MediShield Life premiums after subsidy in 2021, the premiums could rise by as much as 10.7 per cent across the income groups, or up to $91 for the lower income and up to $158 for the high income.

In 2023, the increases in the premiums could rise by as much as 35 per cent across the income groups, or up to $303 for the lower income and up to $525 for the high income.

Indicative Revised MediShield Life Premium Schedule. (TABLE: Ministry of Health)
Indicative Revised MediShield Life Premium Schedule in the public consultation documents. (TABLE: Ministry of Health)

This is the first major review of the scheme since its launch in 2015, and the changes are expected to be implemented in early 2021, said the MOH.

“As MediShield Life premiums had been kept constant for the first five years in line with the government’s commitment, premiums were not adjusted when several benefit enhancements were implemented from 2018 to 2020. This round of adjustments will also take these enhancements into account.”

In addition, the Council proposes introducing treatment-specific claim limits for community hospital care and outpatient radiotherapy to improve coverage for patients receiving sub-acute care or costlier outpatient radiotherapy.

Other recommendations include introducing higher claim limits for daily ward and treatment charges for the first two days of acute hospital stay, as higher charges tend to be incurred during the first two days due to diagnostic tests and investigations.

This is to better support patients who can be discharged home earlier, said the MOH. Another is to lower the deductible for day surgeries for older patients so that they are not discouraged from choosing a day surgery over an inpatient stay, it added.

“Nonetheless, the Council notes that some Singaporeans may face greater challenges with their premiums given the impact of COVID-19, and has asked the MOH to consider providing additional assistance during this exceptional period,” said the MOH.

“The Council is pleased to note that MOH has committed additional support for Singaporeans over the next two years. No one will lose MediShield Life coverage due to financial difficulties.”

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