SINGAPORE - MediShield premiums must be raised to keep up with the rise in pay-outs, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament today.
The amount in which the premiums will be raised will be according to the policy holder's age, he explained.
For example, a 76-year-old policy holder is likely to see an increase of $25 a month, while a 45-year-old may see a lower premium increase of $7 a month.
The premium increase will be less for those in the younger age groups.
This is inevitable in order to keep MediShield sustainable, said Mr Gan.
MediShield paid out 21 per cent more in claims each year between 2008 and 2011. However, premiums only grew by 10 per cent each year, said Mr Gan.
According to Mr Gan, the last increase was in 2008, and Medishield premiums are calculated to be sustainable for a five-year period.
However, to help Singaporeans deal with the rising premiums, the government will be disbursing a one-time Medisave top-up of up to $400 for all Singaporean policy holders.
In addition, most older policyholders who are beyond the re-employment age of 65 will receive direct and long-term assistance via Medisave top-ups under the GST Voucher scheme.
This means they will receive up to $450 a year, or $37.50 per month, which can offset the premium increase in full.
Those aged 50 to 60 will also see a higher contribution to their Medisave accounts due to the higher CPF contribution rates, Mr Gan added.
In response to Hougang MP Mr Gerald Giam's query on whether some of the MediShield reserves can help to offset these premium increases, Mr Gan said that the reserves are to ensure that MediShield will be able to honour policyholders’ future claims and are crucial in ensuring the long-term sustainability and viability of the MediShield Fund.
During the Parliamentary session, several MPs also called for the extension of Medishield to cover more conditions, such as congenital conditions in newborn babies, and psychiatric and mental care.
Mr Gan said the Government will look into the suggestions, but warned that a wider coverage will also mean higher premiums.