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Parliament briefs: More PRs get citizenship but proportion of total new citizens is steady

SINGAPORE — On Thursday (Oct 15), Parliament wrapped up the debate on the latest supplementary Budget rolled out to cope with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Medishield Life claims by seniors have risen significantly since the scheme was introduced in 2015, Parliament heard on Oct 15, 2020.

Medishield Life claims by seniors have risen significantly since the scheme was introduced in 2015, Parliament heard on Oct 15, 2020.

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  • More PRs were granted citizenship in the past year, but their proportion to overall new citizens is steady
  • Children accounted for those granted citizenship without first becoming PRs
  • The average payout for MediShield Life has increased over the past four years
  • S$804 million was spent on Covid-19 facilities, which could house 100,000 people at the peak of the crisis


SINGAPORE — On Thursday (Oct 15), Parliament wrapped up the debate on the latest supplementary Budget rolled out to cope with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Members of Parliament (MP) also tabled a range of questions on topics including the number of permanent residents (PR) who have been granted citizenships in recent years, the total amount of MediShield Life payouts and claims since it started and the funds spent by the Government on Covid-19 facilities to date.

1. PRs granted citizenship on rise, proportion remains stable

Figures provided by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Thursday showed that more PRs have been granted Singapore citizenship in each of the past three years.

The number of PRs granted citizenship was 18,269 in 2017, 18,840 in 2018 and 19,049 in 2019.

But the rise was in line with the increase in total citizenships granted. A total of 22,076, 22,550 and 22,714 citizenships were granted in each of the three years respectively.

This means that the proportion of PRs granted citizenship has stayed steady at about 83 per cent for each of the three years.

The figures were given in response to a written question by Mr Leon Perera, MP for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) from the opposition Workers’ Party (WP).

Mr Shanmugam added that those who were granted citizenships without first becoming a PR were made up of non-resident minors who were either children of Singaporeans or children of PRs who had been granted citizenships as a family unit.

2. Spike in seniors making MediShield Life claims

The number of claims and amount paid out to seniors above age 65 through MediShield Life has risen by almost 50 per cent since it was launched in November 2015, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in response to a written question by the WP’s Louis Chua, MP for Sengkang GRC.

Total payouts to seniors through the compulsory health insurance rose from S$363 million in 2016 to S$541 million in 2019. The annual number of claims by seniors similarly climbed from 229,000 to 333,000 in the same period.

The growth in both claims and payouts is about 30 per cent higher compared to the rate for the overall population, Mr Gan said.

The average payout per claim has also increased from S$1,580 to S$1,620 from 2016 to 2019, he added.

Another WP MP, Mr Gerald Giam, representing Aljunied GRC, also asked Mr Gan for the yearly loss ratio of MediShield Life.

The loss ratio in insurance represents the ratio of total premiums earned to the total claims paid out.

In his reply, Mr Gan provided the incurred loss ratio instead, which refers to the total premiums collected compared to the sum of the claims paid out and the reserves needed to be set aside to support future commitments such as long-term treatments and future premium rebates.

From 2016 to 2019, the incurred loss ratio was 104 per cent. This means that losses incurred by MediShield Life were 4 per cent higher than the premiums collected for the period.

“This is a more accurate representation of the adequacy of premium collection compared to the loss ratio,” Mr Gan wrote. For example, he added, the loss ratio would not take into account the long-term treatment claims that a dialysis patient would need to make.

The questions come two weeks after the Health Ministry announced that premiums for MediShield Life may increase, for the first time, by up to 35 per cent to account for additional claim benefits and rising healthcare costs.

3. S$804 million spent on Covid-19 facilities to date

About S$804 million has been spent on Covid-19 facilities to date, mostly due to the cost of hotels, state properties and the Singapore Expo, said Mr Tan Kiat How, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Development and the Prime Minister’s Office.

These places were used in the past months as temporary facilities for people to serve their quarantine orders or stay-home-notices, as well as to house Covid-19 patients. State properties such as former school buildings were also converted to temporary accommodation for migrant workers.

At its peak, these facilities could house about 100,000 people, Mr Tan said.

Mr Tan was responding to a question by Non-constituency MP Leong Mun Wai, from the opposition Progress Singapore Party, who asked how much the Government has spent on such facilities.

Mr Leong also asked how much of the cost was attributable to migrant workers and why there is a need to build more of them since cases have fallen.

In reply, Mr Tan said he did not have the detailed breakdown of the cost, but expected migrant workers to form a “sizable” portion of the cost, given that they make up the bulk of infection cases in Singapore.

He added: “While the number of cases in Singapore has since declined steadily...we have returned various facilities to their pre-Covid-19 uses. However, as shown by experiences elsewhere in the world, we cannot afford to let our guard down.”

Related topics

medishield life Permanent Resident Parliament Covid-19 coronavirus

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