Standard B1 plan: Health Ministry replies

PHOTO: Standard B1 plan: Health Ministry replies

SINGAPORE - Opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong advocated the addition of a B1 tier to MediShield Life (" Make standard B1 coverage available for all S'poreans ").

MediShield Life, like the current MediShield, will be a basic health insurance scheme. When it is implemented in end-2015, it will provide coverage for all Singaporeans for life, for large hospitalisation expenses and regardless of which class ward they choose.

The level of benefits under MediShield/MediShield Life is based on expenses in B2/C class wards in public hospitals. Today, two-thirds of all admissions in Singapore are to B2/C class wards.

Patients will get the same level of benefits, pegged to the estimated B2/C class expenses, if they choose to stay in a A/B1 class ward or in a private hospital.

However, given that there are lower or no government subsidies for A/B1 class wards or private hospitals, their bills are much higher than in B2/C class wards. Hence, the MediShield Life payout will be smaller when compared to the overall size of the bill.

You can sign up for an Integrated Shield Plan, managed by a private insurer, if you want additional coverage of bills in these higher class of wards or in private hospitals.

This comprises two parts: MediShield (or MediShield Life after it is introduced), and an enhanced portion providing additional coverage for the additional expenses in those wards.

However, premiums will be higher, so do consider your choice of ward class carefully and the premiums over the lifetime, and plan your insurance coverage accordingly.

We note that many Singaporeans have expressed confusion about the range of Integrated Shield Plans available and the cost of premiums, and wish for something that is more standardised, easily understood and affordable.

Hence, the Government will take up the MediShield Life Review Committee's recommendation to work in consultation with the industry to develop key features of a standard plan based on B1 ward rates, to address this need.

Ms Lim Bee Khim Director, Corporate Communications Ministry of Health

This article was first published on July 02, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.