ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Govt to bear most of initial cost of MediShield Life; Medisave use to be expanded
SINGAPORE: The government will bear most of the initial cost of universal coverage under MediShield Life.
And to reduce the cash outlay for more types of outpatient treatment, the use of Medisave will be expanded.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said this during the Committee of Supply debate on Wednesday.
MediShield Life - the universal health insurance scheme - will offer better benefits but premiums will need to increase.
Mr Gan shared how his ministry intends to keep premium increases affordable when MediShield changes to MediShield Life in 2015.
He said: "Our intent is that no Singaporean will drop out of MediShield Life because of their inability to pay for premiums. However, government support is necessarily targeted at those groups who need help with premium payments.
"Those who have the means should still pay their own share. In this way, we look after one another. Nonetheless, to further help with the shift to MediShield Life and cushion the impact on premiums, the government will provide additional transitional premium subsidies for all Singaporeans, regardless of income."
Mr Gan said a typical Singaporean household - with a couple who are both working and have two school-going children - will spend no more than half of their Medisave inflows on MediShield Life premiums.
So for typical lower- to middle-income households, the government intends to keep their premiums at the current level or lower.
This is after taking into account government's permanent subsidies, additional Medisave contributions and top-ups.
For Singaporeans currently on MediShield and who are between the ages of 55 and 64, those with up to the median income will see no net premium increase. This is after taking into account permanent subsidies and Medisave top-ups.
As for those aged 65 and above, Mr Gan said the Pioneer Generation Package would provide sufficient support for MediShield Life.
An inter-ministry taskforce will be formed to take a whole-of-government approach in reaching out to Singaporeans to help them better understand the benefits of MediShield Life as well as the Pioneer Generation Package.
And to help Singaporeans meet their outpatient treatment needs, the use of Medisave will be expanded.
From July, the $30 deductible for each Medisave claim for chronic disease treatment will be removed.
And by the first quarter of next year, patients can also use up to $300 a year of their Medisave to cover non-cancer related scans deemed necessary for diagnosis and treatment.
A new Flexi-Medisave scheme will also be introduced for the elderly to reduce their out-of-pocket payments.
Those aged 65 and above will be able to use their Medisave of up to $200 a year for outpatient medical treatments at the Specialist Outpatient Clinics and polyclinics in the public sector and CHAS (Community Health Assist Scheme) clinics.
This would enable them to see their GPs, for example, for a cough or cold.
To further improve the affordability of outpatient care, the Health Ministry will enhance subsidies for drugs in the Specialist Outpatient Clinics and polyclinics.
From next year, all lower- to middle-income patients will benefit from a 75% subsidy for all standard drugs. And in April this year, 13 more drugs will also be subsidised.
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