Launched in 1990, MediShield was a low-cost medical insurance that covered patients in B2 and C wards in government-restructured hospitals. In 1994, an alternative was introduced—Medisave-approved private insurance known as the Private Medical Insurance Scheme (PMIS). In 2005, as part of the MediShield Reform, the PMIS was restructured and renamed Integrated Shield Plan (ISP). It was no longer a standalone insurance plan, but integrated with MediShield to provide additional benefits for stay in higher class wards (A and B1) in both public and private hospitals.
In 2006, the first as-charged plan was launched, with a choice of rider plans to cover deductibles and co-insurance under the ISPs. With the rider plan, a policyowner effectively does not have to be out-of-pocket from the first dollar—and often, the primary plan and rider can even cover the entire hospital bill. Rider plans were later enhanced with additional benefits such as covering Post Hospitalisation Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), ambulatory services, and alternative treatments on home nursing.
However, this changed recently, with Senior Minister of State for Health, Chee Hong Tat, announcing that patients must bear a minimum of 5 per cent co-payment for the new Integrated Shield Plan riders. This change is a result of overcharging of healthcare services, as well as the overconsumption of these services—driven by an increasingly greying population, rise in medical costs, and claims inflation. The challenge of operating a sustainable healthcare system, while ensuring a high level of medical care, is growing exponentially.
Therefore, the introduction of this co-payment portion is aimed at helping maintain premiums for ISP riders while encouraging responsible behaviour from healthcare providers as well as policyholders.
How will this impact Singaporeans?
This change means that out of a medical bill size of S$50,000, policyholders will have to pay S$2,500 with the rest covered by the insurer. So technically speaking, the larger your medical bill, the more you will have to pay. The good news, though, is that there will be an annual co-payment limit of just S$3,000—which means that policyholders will have to co-pay no more than this limit, regardless their bill size.
What must you do now?
There is nothing for you to do right now. The new riders with 5% co-payment will only be available from April 2019, so if you haven’t yet purchased a full rider, you can still do so now to avoid being affected by this change. However, all riders—both existing and new—will transition to include 5% co-payment from 1 April 2021. For policyholders who already have a full rider in place before the announcement was made, there has been no official news that their rider will be affected, so they will still enjoy the as-charged coverage under their plan—pending a review by the regulatory authorities.
In the meantime, we recommend ensuring your rider plans are active and up-to-date and not making any changes as yet. For your peace of mind, we strongly encourage you conduct regular reviews of your insurance plans to ensure that you have adequate cover for your life’s needs.
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Need help reviewing your existing coverage, and protecting you and your family for the future? Get in touch with us.