SINGAPORE - Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday that Singaporeans should not have to fork out extra cash to pay for the premiums for MediShield Life, as they should be able to do so entirely through Medisave.
Speaking on the sidelines of a cancer awareness event, he acknowledged that there will be exceptional cases.
Even so, "we will look at them on a case-by-case basis to ensure help is available for them to remain covered".
His remarks were made in response to recent recommendations made by a review committee appointed by the Government to look into MediShield Life, a universal health-care system that is due to be rolled out next year.
MediShield Life will involve extending the current MediShield programme to those who are uninsured, namely those aged above 90 or those who had certain pre-existing conditions at the time MediShield started in 1990.
Currently, 8 per cent of Singaporeans are not covered by MediShield.
Mr Gan said that the Government will give more help to three groups - the elderly, the vulnerable and the previously uninsured - so that they can afford the premiums.
Those currently excluded from MediShield may have to pay more in premiums when they come under the scheme, but this will be spread over a period of time to make it more affordable. The Government will also take on a "significant share of the cost" of including them, said Mr Gan.
When asked about higher premiums across the board for Singaporeans, Mr Gan said his ministry will look into developing new subsidy frameworks to keep premiums within the Medisave contribution level.
"This is something we will work towards to give the lower income, even up to the middle income, the assurance that the MediShield Life premiums will always be affordable to them," he said.
Mr Gan also said the ministry will work towards reducing the co-payments borne by patients, and that Medisave contributions will have to go up to ensure Singaporeans can pay the MediShield premiums and co-payment components.
The Health Ministry stressed yesterday that the premiums paid by each age cohort would be set aside for their own use in the future, and not to subsidise premiums for the current elderly cohort - a concept known as pre-funding. "It is important that we avoid inter-generational cross-subsidy as it is not sustainable," it said.
As an interim measure while the MediShield Life review is ongoing, the ministry will be extending MediShield coverage for those who have reached the age of 90.
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