SINGAPORE: Long-term care support schemes CareShield Life and MediSave Care will be launched on Oct 1, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Friday (Aug 28).
The CareShield Life and Long-term Care Bill was passed in September 2019, allowing for Singaporeans born in 1980 or later, including those with pre-existing disabilities, to be enrolled in compulsory long-term disability insurance.
The MediSave Care scheme allows for cash withdrawals from MediSave accounts for long-term care needs.
CareShield Life was originally scheduled to launch in mid-2020, but was delayed because agencies and vendors had to reduce the “pace of development and testing work” due to COVID-19 safe distancing measures and the “circuit breaker” period, Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong had said in June.
Singapore residents aged 30 to 40 in 2020 - or those born between 1980 and 1990, inclusive - will be the first cohorts to join the scheme from Oct 1 or their 30th birthday, whichever is later.
These individuals will receive a CareShield Life welcome package by Sep 2, or up to two months before their 30th birthday.
Subsequent cohorts, or those born after 1990, will automatically join the scheme when they turn 30, and will also receive a CareShield Life welcome package before they turn 30.
Those who are enrolled between 2020 and 2024 will receive up to S$250 in transitional subsidies, said the Health Ministry in a press release on Friday.
The scheme is optional for Singapore residents born in 1979 or earlier. Details on when these cohorts can join CareShield Life will be released in 2021, said MOH.
They will have the opportunity to join CareShield Life, with the option to switch from ElderShield towards the end of 2021. The launch of the scheme for existing cohorts was originally planned for mid-2021.
At S$600 per month in 2020, starting CareShield Life payouts for Singaporeans with severe disability will be higher than under the existing ElderShield Scheme, and will increase annually until age 67, or when a successful claim is made, said the Health Ministry.
While ElderShield pays out S$300 or S$400 per month for up to six years, CareShield Life’s higher payout lasts potentially for life, and as long as the person remains severely disabled.
Singapore residents can use MediSave to pay for their own CareShield Life premiums and for approved dependents, said MOH.
“No one will lose coverage because of an inability to pay their premiums,” said the ministry, adding that the Government will provide support measures to ensure that premiums remain affordable.
Up to two-thirds of households will be eligible for CareShield Life premium subsidies of up to 30 per cent, with permanent means-tested subsidies for lower- to middle-income Singapore residents, it added.
“Singapore citizens in financial need who are unable to pay for their premiums even after the premium subsidies can apply for additional premium support from the Government.”
Under MediSave Care, which also launches from Oct 1, Singapore residents aged 30 and above can tap on their own and their spouse’s MediSave accounts to withdraw cash of up to S$200 per month for long-term care needs, or a total of S$2,400 per year.
The amount that can be withdrawn is dependent on the MediSave account balance. A minimum of S$5,000 has to be set aside in the MediSave account “to ensure sufficient savings for other medical expenses such as hospitalisation and selected costly outpatient treatments”, said MOH.
Individuals whose MediSave account balances are insufficient can tap on their spouse’s MediSave account to supplement the withdrawal, up to a combined total of S$200 per month.
“As our population ages, we want to ensure that Singaporeans continue to have accessible and affordable long-term care. With CareShield Life, severely disabled Singaporeans can be assured that they will receive financial support for life,” said Mr Gan in Friday’s press release.
“They will also have another avenue to fund their long-term care needs, by tapping on their MediSave savings under MediSave Care," he added.
"Together with ElderFund, which provides discretionary government assistance to lower-income, severely disabled Singapore citizens, these schemes will collectively enhance support for long-term care costs.”
Claim applications for both schemes will be open from Oct 1, and interested applicants should arrange for a disability assessment by an MOH-accredited severe disability assessor and submit the scheme application to the Agency for Integrated Care.