Medisave boost for civil servants

FROM January next year, most civil servants will get an extra 1 per cent of monthly salary paid into their Medisave accounts, with those earning lower incomes getting more.

This is over and above the 1 per cent extra employer Medisave contribution announced in this year's Budget that will also be kicking in next year.

About four in 10 government pensioners will also receive the additional 1 per cent when the new MediShield Life scheme kicks in, and the rest will have the premiums for the scheme fully paid for.

These changes are the result of a review of the health-care benefits for public-sector employees conducted in the light of the upcoming implementation of MediShield Life by the end of next year. MediShield Life is the new national health insurance scheme that will cover all Singaporeans for life, with enhanced benefits that will give better coverage of large hospital bills.

As a result, premiums for the scheme will be higher than those for the current MediShield plan.

In a statement yesterday, the Public Service Division (PSD) said it had reviewed its Medisave- cum-Subsidised Outpatient (MSO) scheme with public-sector unions to help civil servants with their inpatient medical needs and benefits from MediShield Life.

About 85 per cent of Singapore's 82,000 civil servants are on the MSO scheme. Introduced in 1994, officers on the scheme do not get direct inpatient medical benefits from their employer. Instead, the Government pays an additional 1 per cent of their monthly salary - capped at $70 per month - into their Medisave accounts. The PSD said that almost all these officers use the money to buy MediShield or other Medi- save-approved insurance plans to cover their inpatient needs.

From January, these officers will now get double the amount - 2 per cent of their monthly pay, subject to a cap of $140 per month.

These changes will also apply to officers working in statutory boards. Low-wage civil servants earning $2,500 and below were given "special consideration", the PSD added. They will get at least $50 monthly in additional Medisave contributions, or about $750 a year, taking into account additional wages.

With the change, a civil servant earning $1,600 a month will get about three times the $240 he is currently getting in annual additional Medisave contributions.

The rest of civil servants who are not on the MSO scheme, as well as 40 per cent of the nation's 32,000 government pensioners, are on the older Comprehensive Co-payment Scheme which heavily subsidises health-care costs, including inpatient treatment at public hospitals and polyclinics.

This second group will get an extra 1 per cent in Medisave contributions when MediShield Life starts, to offset higher premiums.

A third group - which comprises the rest of government pensioners - are on older medical benefits schemes which provide better benefits than MediShield Life.

"Since MediShield Life is compulsory, the Government will pay for the premiums for this group so that these pensioners will be no worse off and will benefit from MediShield Life coverage," said PSD. It will write to pensioners with the details by October.

Civil servants cheered the move, with the National Trades Union Congress adding that it has "set an excellent example" in helping civil servants meet their long-term health-care needs.

This article was first published on July 5, 2014.
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