SINGAPORE Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday stressed the importance of insurance in a country's healthcare financing. He said the government wants to encourage lower-income families to be covered by its insurance scheme, MediShield, Channel News Asia reported.
Mr Gan said this in response to questions from reporters on his ministry's plan to provide wider coverage from the first quarter of next year. He said it has to calibrate MediShield enhancements very carefully, including extending coverage for congenital and neo-natal conditions.
"We also are concerned that, whether by introducing this additional insurance, we will actually increase the cost of treatment. Because once it is covered by insurance, parents and doctors may pursue more expensive treatment and overall, this may raise the cost of healthcare for children in Singapore," said Mr Gan.
"We need to calibrate it so that there is a balance between benefits covered by the insurance, as well as the cost of the insurance premium, to ensure that the benefits remain relevant and effective and at the same time, the premium remains affordable."
Mr Gan was speaking to the media at the end of his ministerial walkabout to the Bukit Timah division of the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.
With the enhancements, patients will be able to claim up to $70,000 for their hospital bills annually, higher than the $50,000 limit currently. As well, the lifetime limit will be increased from $200,000 to $300,000 to help policyholders who face exceptionally large bills, such as undergoing multiple surgeries after an accident. MediShield deductibles will also be adjusted accordingly, as medical bills have become more expensive over the years.
With the extended coverage and payouts, MediShield premiums will have to be raised.
But the Health Ministry said for the vast majority of policyholders, the increase in premiums will be less than $10 a month. And with the additional government support given at this year's Budget, Singaporeans aged 65 and below will have to fork out no more than $5 per month in the next two years.