Parliament: MediShield Life Scheme Bill gives wide-ranging powers to administrator

Parliament: MediShield Life Scheme Bill gives wide-ranging powers to administrator

SINGAPORE - The administrators of the MediShield Life Scheme, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) and Ministry of Health (MOH), will be given wide-ranging powers to access policyholders' financial and medical records, as well as impose penalties on those who default on their premiums, according to the bill tabled in Parliament today.

Under the new laws, policyholders' personal details such as residential address and monthly income may be accessed without their explicit consent.

The Straits Times reported that those who do not want such information accessed may opt out, but they will become ineligible for income-related subsidies for their premiums, and will not automatically receive a clean bill of health.

The Bill will also give CPF administrators powers equivalent to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) to recover defaulted premiums, which put a heavier load on other policyholders if left unpaid.

Singaporeans and permanent residents are required to pay full premiums even if they are living overseas for long periods of time.

Today Online reported that the MOH has put safeguards in place to prevent abuse of the databases. It added that the records may be accessed only by authorised persons to administer the scheme.

Anyone found guilty of unauthorised access, usage or disclosure of such information will face a maximum fine of $5,000, a jail term of up to one year, or both.

MediShield Life, which replaces the existing MediShield at the end of this year, will provide lifetime coverage for Singaporeans and permanent residents regardless of their health status. 

minlee@sph.com.sg

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