Medishield Life: Review private, corporate health plans

PHOTO: Medishield Life: Review private, corporate health plans

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans are elated with the planned roll-out of the new MediShield Life scheme. However, there are still two major kinks that need to be addressed.

First, it will affect a significant number of Singaporeans who have already insured themselves with an Integrated Shield Plan (IP). Currently, it is tagged with the MediShield scheme - a mechanism not easy for ordinary consumers to understand.

We assume this arrangement will continue in some form.

However, as explained by Mr Victor Lye ("MediShield Life: Don't let private insurers pick all the cherries"; June 14) insurance companies may now structure their products in a way to entice the younger group to enrol, and nudge the ageing group back into MediShield Life.

This is risk selection - detrimental to the interests of Singaporeans covered under IPs.

Given our small market, the private health insurance market may not be functioning perfectly. Consumers are also psychologically locked in - afraid to switch suppliers due to the complex and intricate manner in which health insurance products are marketed.

There is, therefore, merit in having the relevant regulatory authority review the private health insurance industry to ensure that competition can be enhanced to protect consumers' interest in the context of MediShield Life.

Another issue is that many workers are covered by their employers' group hospitalisation and surgical plans - a tangible component of an employee's remuneration package.

Many are unaware that only one plan is claimable for a hospital bill.

So the net effect is that workers are going to pay more for compulsory MediShield Life but essentially still enjoy the same medical coverage. The real benefits kick in only when they stop work or retire.

Logically, the current medical insurance premiums paid by employers should instead be used to offset the premiums paid by workers themselves for MediShield Life.

The Government should legally intervene to correct this gross unfairness towards workers.

Letter from Dr Edmund Lam

This article was first published on June 22, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.