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Up to 3% increase in premiums for existing MediShield policy holders

Existing MediShield policy holders could see their premiums go up by up to 3 per cent as a result of the universal coverage initiative under MediShield Life, but the Government will bear most of the shared cost of universal coverage.

SINGAPORE: Today, not everyone can buy medical insurance -- not if you have an existing condition such as kidney disease. However, under new recommendations announced on Thursday (June 5) to enhance the MediShield Life scheme, everyone will be covered, including those with pre-existing conditions.

This universal coverage will come at a higher cost which will be shared among the government, policy holders, and those with pre-existing conditions. The MediShield Life Review Committee says the Government is expected to fund more than half of the cost, while the premium increase for policy holders should be no more than 3 per cent from current premiums.

The committee said those with pre-existing conditions will have to pay higher premiums reflective of their higher risks, at an additional 30 per cent for 10 years. And thereafter, they will pay the normal premiums relevant to their age group.

Said Mr Bobby Chin, the chairman of the MediShield Life Review Committee: "We need to take into account, obviously, that those with pre-existing conditions will bring in higher risks and cost to the MediShield Life scheme and therefore we think it is equitable, fair to the other existing insured (people). The committee had to balance -- on one hand, not to have too onerous an amount loaded on this group of people, (and) on the other hand, Singaporeans coming together to pay a small amount of 3 per cent to help in this risk-pooling."

Mr Chin also explained the recommendation to start premium rebates earlier, from the age of 66, instead of 71. 

"We felt that 66 is the age where people, even with the re-employment of Singaporeans, is the age where you may not be working, you may not have employment income to pay for the premiums and that is the time that you should be getting the rebate to cushion the increase in premiums when you grow old."

To that end, the committee has proposed adding a new age band of 66 - 70, which will enable Singaporeans to enjoy premium discounts earlier. And like the existing structure, those who sign up when they are younger will enjoy more rebates.

Currently, rebates are given to make premiums more affordable for older insured members, who joined the scheme before age 60 as of their next birthday.

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