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Granting of MediShield Life premium subsidies will be "hassle-free": Amy Khor

The process of getting premium subsidies for the new MediShield Life scheme will be made as hassle-free and automatic as possible, said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor.

SINGAPORE: The process of getting premium subsidies for the new MediShield Life scheme will be made as hassle-free and automatic as possible.

That was the assurance given by Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor on Sunday.

Those who still cannot afford to pay for premiums even with the subsidies will also get more financial help.

Premiums are expected to go up when MediShield Life kicks in next year.

That's because more benefits are also expected.

But the government has said that it will be providing support to help Singaporeans cope.

Besides the pioneer generation, two-thirds of Singaporean households from the low- and middle- income groups will receive premium subsidies.

Dr Khor said: "We'll make it as hassle free and automatic as far as possible.

"I think the important thing to tell Singaporeans now is we're working out the details, and we'll give the details later when we're ready.

"But we want to assure Singaporeans that we are committed to making sure that the premiums are affordable."

Transitional subsidies will also be offered for four years to help ease the shift to MediShield Life.

Medisave top-ups will also be provided to the pioneer generation and those aged between 55 and 64.

As for those who may fall through the cracks, more help will be given.

Dr Khor said: "If (after) all these, they are still not able to pay despite the various subsidies that we are giving, then we would help them in terms of financial assistance, something akin to Medifund (for example).

"We would help them. No one would be dropped off from MediShield Life just because they cannot afford to pay."

Dr Khor also noted that premiums will fall within Singaporeans' Medisave contributions.

The increase in premiums will also in most cases be covered by the 1 per cent increase in employer's Medisave contribution, which kicks in next year.

Dr Khor was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a community event for Hong Kah North residents held at the Bird Park on Sunday morning.

She said helping Singaporeans understand the healthcare financing system will also allow them to better plan for their retirement.

Communicating how MediShield Life will work is also key and Dr Khor said it's through community events that key messages can be shared with Singaporeans.

The government is also looking at holding dialogues, producing videos and skits in various languages, as well as, perhaps, comic strips to educate citizens about MediShield Life.

Dr Khor said: "We are painfully aware that the healthcare financing system is not simple for Singaporeans to understand.

"Therefore communication is really very important as we have also indicated for, say, the Pioneer Generation Package.

"It's also important to sustain this over time, because you can't just do it one time (or) ad-hoc.

"You have to do it on a sustained basis in order to deepen outreach and engagement, and also at various points in time when they need certain services."

Authorities will also engage healthcare professionals, voluntary welfare organisations, employers and grassroots organisations to help reach out to Singaporeans from all walks of life. 

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