Amy Khor answers MediShield queries in webchat

Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, Amy Khor
PHOTO: Amy Khor answers MediShield queries in webchat

SINGAPORE - Why incomes above $2,600 are considered high and don't qualify for MediShield Life subsidies, and whether people would be paying twice for health insurance when the Government's lifelong health insurance kicks in - if they already have additional insurance - were hot topics during a webchat with Dr Amy Khor last night.

Around 90 people quizzed Dr Khor, chairman of the Government feedback unit Reach and Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, during a 90-minute chat on the Reach Facebook page.

Responding to questions on why incomes above the $2,600 ceiling for premium subsidies are classified as high income, Dr Khor said that the amount is for each person in the household. So for a four- member household, the total income would be $10,400. Using this yardstick, two-thirds of the population will receive the subsidies.

"We used per capita household income to take into account households with more members who would need more help," she said.

Another concern raised was about "double paying" if the person already has private health insurance.

Participant Wong Boon Hong brought up the issue of those who already had complete coverage - such as 100 per cent of hospitalisation costs covered through riders and add-ons - and asked if they should cancel these riders where the person pays more to get added coverage.

A Ministry of Health representative explained that riders are usually on top of Integrated Shield Plans, which already include MediShield today - which will automatically become MediShield Life next year.

Speaking to the media before the session, Dr Khor said Reach had received about 250 comments on its MediShield Life microsite, Facebook page and via e-mail after the MediShield Life Review Committee's report was released on June 27.

A common misperception was that MediShield Life coverage was only for those who used the cheaper Class B2 and C wards. Dr Khor pointed out that MediShield Life covers all Singaporeans regardless of the class of ward they choose.

"MediShield Life coverage is pegged to expenses in subsidised B2 and C class wards, so if they were to opt to go to a higher ward class or to private hospitals, they can still claim the same benefits from MediShield Life," she said, but added that they would have to top up more.

The Government will spend $4 billion over the next five years on subsidies for MediShield Life, which kicks in at the end of next year. Benefits of the new scheme include raising daily and annual caps and removing the lifetime claims limit.

Some who took part in the Facebook chat also said the fact that the scheme covered them for life and included those with pre-existing medical conditions, gave them peace of mind. Reach will compile commonly asked questions from the chat on www.reach.gov.sg/medishieldlife.

joseow@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on July 3, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.