Health Minister Gan Kim Yong speaks to reporters on the sidelines of the Singapore Healthcare Management Congress 2013.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has assured Singaporeans that the premium increases for MediShield Life will be affordable.
SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has assured Singaporeans that the premium increases for MediShield Life will be affordable.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Singapore Healthcare Management Congress 2013 on Monday, Mr Gan said the public consultation for MediShield Life will be conducted over the next few months to give the government a better idea of how to implement the scheme.
Changes to the MediShield scheme signal a major shift in Singapore’s healthcare financing policy. Coverage will no longer stop at 90 years of age and will include those with pre-existing illnesses. As a result of these enhancements, premiums will go up.
The health minister said the amount of increase will depend on the feedback from the public.
Mr Gan said: “It will also be part of the consultation to have a sense from Singaporeans what enhancements they are looking forward to and what kind of costs will be bearable, will be acceptable, and what amount of government support will be needed.
“But I think it’s suffice to say that the government will definitely come in with a greater help to ensure that whatever premium increases will be manageable, especially for the lower income (group and) for the elderly.”
The health minister also said the individual has a role to play to ensure that universal coverage will not lead to an over-consumption of healthcare services. That is why there is a need to have deductibles and co-payment.
Mr Gan said: “We also want to continue to encourage individuals to take responsibility, to stay healthy, to save up sufficiently for the rainy days, so they are able to afford a co-payment.”
With the changes to the health financing scheme, Mr Gan said there are several issues which need to be ironed out.
Over time, the implementation details of MediShield Life will be studied, including exploring ways to include those who are currently excluded from the scheme, as well as talking to private insurers on how their plans can be integrated.
Mr Gan added that the changes to MediShield will not affect Medifund, an endowment fund set up to help needy Singaporeans pay for their medical expenses.
He said: “Medifund will continue to play an important role, especially for those that are in the lower income, even up to middle income, because there will continue to be instances where low income families cannot afford even to pay for the co-payment because they may not have Medisave, and also some who haven’t been able to work for various reasons.
“And therefore, for this group, Medifund will continue to play an important role to help them pay for their medical costs.”