The much-awaited list of pre-existing diseases that will require those suffering from these illnesses to pay a 30 per cent higher premium will be announced in July.
The information will be obtained from healthcare institutions but people who do not want the Ministry of Health (MOH) looking into their health status will be given time to opt out of the health assessment.
They will be assumed to have such problems, and have to pay the higher premiums.
The higher premiums do not affect people who are already fully covered by MediShield or an integrated plan, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on the sidelines of a tour of the soon-to-be-opened Ng Teng Fong General Hospital yesterday.
When MediShield Life is launched later this year, it will cover everyone for life. So even those who are already chronically or seriously ill, and who might need to draw on the insurance from day one, will be included.
To be fair to the majority who have been paying premiums for many years, these people will have to pay 30 per cent higher premiums for 10 years, after which they will pay the same as other people in their age band.
Mr Gan said that MOH will try not to impose the penalty premium on those with less severe pre-existing medical conditions, adding that the ministry will err on the side of compassion.
According to MOH, those who will need to pay the higher premiums are likely to be people with cancer, kidney failure, stroke and heart diseases. These are medical conditions that "require intensive medical intervention to treat or manage; or have high risk of future complications or recurrence, and therefore may require prolonged treatment".
Mr Gan said people who need to pay the higher amount will be told, and "if they wish, they can appeal and we will consider the appeal on a case-by-case basis". The important thing now, he said, is for people to check their household incomes when they receive their letters next month, to ensure that they receive the subsidy they are entitled to.
Two in three households - those with a per capita household income of $2,600 or less and living in homes with annual values of below $21,000 - will receive 15 per cent to 50 per cent subsidies to help them pay the higher premiums for MediShield Life.
"Even if your address is correct, it would be helpful for you to go in to double-check," he said.
This article was first published on April 30, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.