Mr Gan, will I need to pay more?

Mr Gan, will I need to pay more?

SINGAPORE - The Health Ministry announced details to changes to various health-care schemes announced at the National Day Rally earlier this month.

But will these changes lead to higher costs? We asked Health Minister Gan Kim Yong about:

Medishield premiums

With a new Medishield Life in the works for all Singaporeans and PRs, premiums for the Governmentlinked insurance plans are likely to go up.

Medishield does not cover those above the age of 90, but Medishield Life will cover people of all ages.

Annual premiums now range from about $105 to $1,190, depending on age group and can be paid for by Medisave.

Said Mr Gan: "The Government will ensure that everyone can afford the premiums. All of us will be in the scheme together and we will take care of those who can't afford it. We reassure Singaporeans that premiums will be affordable so that people do not drop out of the insurance scheme because they cannot afford it."

The ministry will conduct a public consultation on Medishield Life in the final quarter of the year and hopes to roll out the new scheme in a year or so.

Medisave contributions

Mr Gan: "This is an issue we are studying. We may need to raise Medisave contribution rates when the economy permits, but we have no immediate plans to do so.

"The CPF contributions need to be balanced between a person's health-care needs, retirement needs and housing needs. This is an issue which we will need to study more on."

Now, between 19 and 83 per cent of an employee's CPF contributions go to the Medisave account, with the older age groups contributing more.

Community Health Assist Scheme expanded:

- Qualifying age group of 40 years old and above will be removed.

- Income ceiling will be raised from $1,500 to $1,800 (per capita household income). About half of all Singaporeans will qualify.

- Subsidised rate for consultation with a GP about results of recommended health screenings.

I can now use my Medisave for:

- Five other chronic conditions - osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint diseases), benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlargement of prostate gland), anxiety, Parkinson's disease, nephritis/nephrosis (chronic kidney diseases). Currently, treatment for 10 conditions such as diabetes, stroke and asthma, can be paid for by Medisave.

- Vaccinations against pneumococcal and influenza, for high-risk groups such as the young, the elderly and pregnant women.

- Recommended newborn screening tests (for hearing test, metabolic and thyroid function, and G6PD - an inherited condition which weakens the red blood cells) in outpatient setting.

(All changes effective from Jan 1, 2014, except for income ceiling, which is effective immediately.)

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