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Dialysis patients set to get reprieve under MediShield Life

Some dialysis patients said a treatment cost reprieve could be on the way under MediShield Life - the $300,000 lifetime claims limit might be scrapped. 

SINGAPORE: The National Kidney Foundation saw about 4,000 patients in June 2013, a 48 per cent increase over the same period in 2006. With a higher incidence of diabetes and hypertension, as well as an ageing population, doctors warn that this number is set to rise.

But with MediShield Life, some patients said a reprieve could be on the way -- as far as treatment costs are concerned.

51-year-old Hashim Abdul Rahim has been undergoing dialysis for the past 20 years, and he has claimed more than S$200,000 under MediShield so far. After subsidies, Mr Hashim pays about S$50 per month for his dialysis treatment.

However, he has always been worried about the lifetime limit of S$300,000. Thus, it was welcome news for him that the limit will likely be scrapped.

"Of course I feel very happy. It's better for the patients. They have whole life coverage," he said.

Currently, about one-third who are uninsured under MediShield are 65 years old and above. That includes 65-year-old Mdm Wong Kui Lan, who has been undergoing dialysis for the last two years.

With changes expected under MediShield Life, those uninsured like Mdm Wong will be brought under the scheme.

Lim Liang Huat, Mdm Wong's caregiver, said: "She has been undergoing kidney dialysis for about two years and has high blood pressure and diabetes. I need to spend about four or five hundred dollars a month.

"So I look forward to this MediShield Life because I can save a bit more, don't need to spend so much, don't have to ask money from my kids."

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "MediShield Life will provide better coverage as well as more effective coverage... Among these dialysis patients, some of them may not be covered by insurance because of various pre-existing conditions.

"Some of them may have already gone beyond 90 years, which is the limit for MediShield, and a small number of them are reaching the claims limit of S$300,000."

The MediShield Life Review Committee is expected to submit its report to the Health Ministry later this year.

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