Singapore's 32,000 pensioners enjoy significant medical benefits from the Government and a couple of MPs expressed concern that they could be worse off under the new MediShield Life insurance scheme.
One of them is Workers' Party MP Png Eng Huat (Hougang), who said that under MediShield Life, pensioners will lose the medical coverage for their dependents.
"The additional out-of-pocket expenses for hospital bills and the annual premiums for MediShield Life coverage for their dependents are additional costs to them," he added.
About 40 per cent of pensioners are on plans like the Comprehensive Co-payment Scheme, which gives them and their dependents heavy subsidies for hospitalisation in public hospitals and outpatient treatment at polyclinics. Those on the Fixed Amount on Ward Scheme, Mr Png said, have their hospital bills capped at $8 a day and get free treatment at polyclinics.
He also said some pensioners may not have enough savings in their Medisave accounts for co-payments and deductibles, as they were "not required to set aside any Medisave because they enjoy life-long retirement medical benefits".
He asked if pensioners could choose to be exempted from MediShield Life.
Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam called on the Health Ministry to address concerns on whether existing medical benefits of pensioners would duplicate those in MediShield Life, and how this could be avoided.
Dr Fatimah Lateef (Marine Parade GRC) wants to know how MediShield Life would affect pensioners.
Replying, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong gave the assurance that pensioners would not be worse off under MediShield Life. "Under the current MediShield scheme, the pensioner's spouse will lose coverage when the pensioner passes away," he said. "But going forward, the spouse will be covered under MediShield Life for life, even after the pensioner has passed away."
Mr Gan also referred to a Government announcement last week that pensioners in the Comprehensive Co-payment Scheme will get an extra 1 per cent in Medisave, when MediShield Life starts next year to offset higher premiums.
Pensioners on older medical schemes, which provide better benefits than MediShield Life, will have their premiums paid for by the Government.
The Goverment will write to pensioners with details by October.
This article was first published on July 10, 2014.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.