SINGAPORE - There will be a huge respite for those currently shunned by health insurers or facing large hospital bills, should the MediShield Life Review Committee's recommendations be accepted.
The elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are the big winners.
The daily claim limits for community hospitals could go up by 40 per cent and there could be a 55 per cent increase for normal and Intensive Care Unit wards.
This would mean that 91 out of every 100 Singaporeans hospitalised in a Class B2 or C ward would pay less than $3,000 a year after claims, compared to the current proportion of 83 out of every 100.
There will also be a big reprieve for those stuck with big bills. Currently, for those billed $10,000 or more, only 9 per cent end up paying less than $3,000 a year, after claims. This number will go up to 55 per cent.
Those critically ill will also benefit from a substantial increase in claim limits for outpatient chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments. They will be able to claim as much as $3,000 for chemotherapy, instead of the $1,240 they now claim per 21- or 28-day cycle or month.
Explaining the key principles behind the universal health-care system, Bobby Chin, chairman of the committee, highlighted the importance of MediShield Life "to act as an insurance to give Singaporeans peace of mind against large bills".
Some had called for a decrease in deductible amounts, instead of an increase in claim limits. But it is the latter that would best defray out-of-pocket expenses for large bills, he said.
"It is more critical to focus on enhancing protection for the large bills that cause Singaporeans to worry," said Mr Chin.
But with the inclusion of those with pre-existing conditions and those above the age of 90, premiums are set to go up.
Hence the Government will shoulder the bulk of the burden, by even more than half, to ensure that Singapore residents already covered by MediShield see a premium increase of no more than 3 per cent, the panel said.
The Ministry of Health said it will help all Singaporeans adjust to the premium increases with transitional subsidies over four years.
Meanwhile, those joining the scheme will have to pay an additional 30 per cent on top of the premiums for their age group, for a period of 10 years.
Get MyPaper for more stories.