Q: Why does the standard B1 plan fully pay for only nine out of 10 B1 bills?
A: There are caps on payment that should be enough to cover most B1 treatments. However, should the patient suffer from complications, the treatment cost might bust the limits.
There is also a $150,000 annual limit on claims. A patient who is frequently in and out of hospital might chalk up bills in excess of this within one year. The excess amount will not be covered.
Q : I'm thinking of downgrading my current IP. Should I change to an insurer that charges lower premiums for the standard B1 IP?
A: That depends on whether you suffer from any medical conditions. If you do, switching to a different insurer might mean that treatment for these conditions will not be covered. If your current insurer covers you fully, it will allow you to downgrade without penalty. In other words, you will still be fully insured.
Furthermore, there is no guarantee that an insurer will still charge the lowest premiums in future.
Q: I have only MediShield Life. Should I upgrade to the standard B1 IP?
A: That depends on the ward class you are likely to choose should you be hospitalised. If you plan to stay in a subsidised ward, then the basic MediShield Life should be enough.
Remember that you will need to pay the deductible - the first $1,500 in C class, $2,000 in B2 and $2,500 in B1 each year if you are 80 years and younger, with the amount higher for older people - as well as the 10 per cent co-insurance for the rest of the bill.
One advantage of having an IP is the higher amount claimable for kidney dialysis. The standard B1 plan pays up to $2,750 a month for this while MediShield Life pays only $1,000. This is an important consideration if your income bracket does not qualify you for subsidised treatment.
Q: I have a B1 IP. Should I switch to the standard B1 IP?
A: Current B1 IPs offer different benefits. You need to compare what you now enjoy with the benefits of the standard B1 plan and decide which suits you better.
In terms of premiums, the standard B1 IP will cost less than an "as charged" B1 plan.
Q: What's the difference between "as charged" and non "as charged" IPs?
A: An "as charged" IP will pay based on the actual bill of the relevant ward class. A non "as charged" IP will pay only up to the claim limits it has set.
Q: I just paid my MediShield Life premium when it was launched on Nov 1. Do I lose the "unused" part of the premium if I switch to the standard B1 plan on May 1?
A: No, your insurer will adjust your new B1 premium accordingly.
Q: Do I need to take up the B1 plan by a certain age?
A: No, there is no age limit. However, if you are a new policyholder with the company, the insurer has the right not to cover you for any pre-existing illnesses.
This article was first published on March 16, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.