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New MediShield Life to provide lifelong coverage: PM Lee

SINGAPORE — Catastrophic illness insurance scheme MediShield is set for an overhaul. It will be “revamped” as MediShield Life, with its age ceiling of 90 years removed to provide lifelong coverage for all Singaporeans, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech this evening (Aug 18).

SINGAPORE — Catastrophic illness insurance scheme MediShield is set for an overhaul. It will be “revamped” as MediShield Life, with its age ceiling of 90 years removed to provide lifelong coverage for all Singaporeans, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech this evening (Aug 18).

Elaborating on the changes, he said that universal coverage means there will be no more opting out, with everyone covered including the elderly and those with pre-existing illnesses.

MediShield Life will also give better protection for very large hospital bills, and patients will pay less out-of-pocket, said Mr Lee.

But with better benefts and coverage, this will mean that premiums will go up, he said. “(It) has to be because it has to break even,” he said, but added that the Government will subsidise premiums for those who cannot afford them.

Mr Lee said one major worry for Singaporeans is incurring big hospital bills should they fall seriously ill, although those on MediShield, which essentially covers large hospitalisation bills, should have no cause for worry.

However two groups of people may still fall through the cracks – those who do not have Medishield cover and will find it harder and more expensive to get insurance if they are elderly or have pre-existing illnesses, as well as those above 90.

As MediShield Life is a major change, said Mr Lee, the Ministry of Health will be conducting a public consultation exercise to seek views before deciding on the details of the scheme. It will take a year, or more to do come up with the details, he said.

Last week, the government parliamentary committee for health had recommended making changes to Medishield, citing feedback that some doctors are even advising their patients to allow their MediShield coverage to lapse because the premiums were too high.

Some Singaporeans have allowed their coverage to lapse because premiums “have risen so high during their old age, it has become impossible for (them) to maintain their coverage”, it said.

The scheme had undergone changes earlier this year, including extending the coverage to inpatient congenital and neonatal conditions, as well as increasing the coverage age from 85 years to 90 years.

Premiums also went up with these changes, with policyholders aged 65 and below facing increases of less than $10 per month, while those aged above 65 had increases of up to $21 per month. The government provided an on-off Medisave top-up of up to $400 for citizens under this scheme, which premiums can be paid by Medisave, to cope with the increases.

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