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MediShield Life covers claims for A, B1 wards, private hospitals: Health Minister

Not true that MediShield Life will only apply to B2 and C class wards in public hospitals, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

SINGAPORE: Under the MediShield Life scheme, patients will be able to claim for hospital stays in A or B1 class wards as well as private hospitals, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Wednesday (July 2).

He said that perceptions that MediShield Life will only apply to B2 and C class wards in public hospitals are inaccurate.

"While MediShield Life is designed based on the cost structure of B2 and C class wards because it mainly caters to subsidised patients, if a patient were to be warded in a B1 or A class ward or even a private hospital, they can still apply to claim from MediShield Life," the minister said.

Mr Gan added that because charges for private hospitals are higher, the amount these patients can claim will be smaller once the amount is adjusted based on B2 and C class subsidised rates.

The Health Minister was speaking to reporters during the topping-out ceremony of the Integrated Building facility being developed by Changi General Hospital and St Andrew's Community Hospital, and also addressed concerns on the criteria for premium subsidies.

When the MediShield Life scheme comes into effect next year, Singaporeans who are not from the Pioneer Generation will be means-tested to qualify for premium subsidies, based on their per capita household income or asset value.

Those whose annual home value is above S$21,000 will receive transitional subsidies for four years. This is not means-tested, but they will not receive premium subsidies.

"There will be people who may have low incomes but have a very high-value old asset, and it may be difficult for them to monetise this in the short term," said Mr Gan. "For those who really have a problem paying for MediShield Life premiums despite all the support and subsidies, there is still this additional premium support that will provide additional help for these people, on a case-by-case assessment."

Mr Gan was also asked whether he expects B2 and C class wards in public hospitals to become more crowded when MediShield Life kicks in next year. He said the demand for healthcare services will grow regardless of MediShield Life, as Singapore experiences a rapidly ageing population.

"It's not just about building more and more capacity, but to also look at how we can make better use of facilities to provide appropriate care," he noted. "So one important element is to ensure there is no over-consumption, because we want to ensure we don't inadvertently encourage unnecessary consumption of healthcare services."

Mr Gan cited the new Integrated Building as an example of how acute, sub-acute, rehabilitation and home care can be brought together as Singapore's population ages rapidly.

The Integrated Building is a 280-bed facility and will house nine wards, outpatient facilities and rehabilitative services. Mr Gan said such facilities help ensure there is enough capacity, while ensuring appropriate care that does not border on the excessive.

Said Dr Lee Chien Earn, Chief Executive Officer of Changi General Hospital: "For example, if an elderly patient had a fall and fractured his hip, we will fix the hip and start rehabilitation as early as possible. But St Andrew's will have a key role to play in the continuing rehabilitation of the patient. So we are trying to work out a pathway to enable our patients to flow smoothly, and ensure that what has been done is not unnecessarily duplicated, and what is not done is not forgotten."

The Integrated Building will start operating the first of its wards, as well as some outpatient services, from December.

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