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Singapore

Mandatory medical insurance coverage for migrant workers, maids to rise

Mandatory medical insurance coverage for migrant workers, maids to rise

Migrant workers seen crossing a street in Singapore. (File photo: CNA/Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: Mandatory medical insurance for work permit and S Pass holders will be boosted to better protect employers from large, unexpected medical bills, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon on Friday (Mar 4).

The new requirements, which will also apply to domestic helpers, will come into effect by the end of this year and will apply to all new work permit and S Pass applications and renewals. 

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said that more details will be shared in due course.

Employers are responsible for the medical expenses of their work permit and S Pass holders that are incurred in Singapore. 

The medical bills of these workers are not subsidised or covered under national schemes such as MediShield Life and MediFund.

To help employers better manage their workers’ medical bills, they are required to purchase medical insurance with at least S$15,000 coverage for work permit and S Pass holders.

More than 1,000 employers a year on average face bills that are above S$15,000, said Dr Koh.

For amounts higher than S$15,000, there will be a new co-payment element for employers and insurers, up to an annual claim limit of at least S$60,000. 

For example, for a medical bill of S$70,000 today, the insurer will cover the first S$15,000 and the employer will bear the remaining S$55,000. 

With the enhanced medical insurance, the insurer will continue to cover the first S$15,000 in full. For the remaining S$55,000, the insurer will co-pay 75 per cent while the employer will pay the remaining bill. This means that the employer pays S$13,750.

The increased annual claim limit will cover more than 99 per cent of migrant workers’ in-patient and day surgery bills, said MOM.

The premiums will also be differentiated for those aged 50 and below, and those above 50 years old. 

This is to keep premiums affordable as 95 per cent of the migrant workforce are below 50 years old, said Dr Koh.

MOM will also standardise a list of baseline allowable exclusions across insurers. 

For example, insurers may exclude procedures that are not medically necessary, treatments arising from workers’ criminal acts, self-inflicted injuries and venereal diseases.

Insurers may also exclude treatments for pre-existing illnesses that occur within the first 12 months of the worker’s employment with the same employer.

Insurers will also be required to reimburse hospitals directly upon the admissibility of the claim. This means employers will not need to pay for their workers’ hospital bills upfront before seeking reimbursement from insurers.

"This will help employers who are cash-strapped and free up cashflow for businesses," said Dr Koh.

Source: CNA/hm(gr)

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