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MOH looking to develop new subsidies for MediShield Life

The Health Ministry is looking at developing new subsidy schemes for MediShield Life so that premiums are within Medisave contributions. On top of current subsidies, the Health Ministry will be developing new health care frameworks for those facing financial problems.

SINGAPORE: The Health Ministry is looking at developing new subsidy schemes for MediShield Life so that premiums are within Medisave contributions.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong was responding to the MediShield Life Review Committee's preliminary observations on the new universal insurance scheme, on the sidelines of a health event.

On top of current subsidies, the Health Ministry will be developing new health care frameworks for those facing financial problems.

As the MediShield Life Review Committee continues its consultations, the government said it is committed to help vulnerable groups with their premiums.

Mr Gan said: “One of the principal considerations of the design of both the subsidy framework and the premium, which is related to benefits, is to work towards keeping the premium within the Medisave contribution rates, so that Singaporeans will be able to use the Medisave contributions, which includes government's share of the contribution to Medisave, to pay for the MediShield Life.

“For the lower-income group, their Medisave contributions will be lower and we need to look at how we can help them.

“For the middle-income group, some of them may have larger families and they may also have financial difficulties, there may also be challenges and we will look at how we can help them so as to ensure MediShield Life will be affordable to all."

Mr Gan said over time, the contribution levels of Medisave will have to go up.

He added that the government will take on a significant share of the cost of including those who are currently uninsured.

Mr Gan said: “The individuals who are excluded today, for them to come into MediShield Life, especially those with pre-existing conditions, we'll also have to take on a larger share of the premiums, so for them, there will be some kind of loading in their premiums. As to exactly how much the loading is, we will have to work it out. The loading and the premiums for this particular group with the pre-existing conditions may be spread out over a period of time so that it will be affordable for them.”

On the issue of co-payment, the Health Ministry said it agrees with the review committee's focus on lowering co-payment borne by patients, as this will give Singaporeans a greater peace of mind against the risk of incurring large hospital bills.

He said: "The co-payment as a concept is very important, because it also reflects the focus on individual responsibility. While we want to preserve the idea of individual responsibility, we also have to recognise that with the changing landscape and the healthcare costs rising, there is a need for us to provide a greater support and greater collective responsibility to help the individuals cope with their share of the co-payment."

As an interim measure before MediShield Life kicks in, MediShield coverage for those who have reached the age of 90 will be extended.

Some 150 policyholders, who will be turning 91 soon, are expected to benefit.

Their annual premiums will remain the same as those aged 90, at S$1,190.

Commenting on pre-funding, the ministry said it is meant to ensure a better spread of premium payments across an individual's lifetime.

This is to keep premiums affordable in one's old age.

Also, it is important to avoid inter-generational cross-subsidy as it is not sustainable.

It said the pre-funded amounts paid by each age cohort should be set aside for their own use in the future, and not used to subsidise premiums for the current elderly.  

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