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Posts tagged ‘MediShield’

DPM Teo assures pioneer generation over MediShield Life

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File photo: Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Teo Chee Hean.

 

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has assured the pioneer generation they need not worry about their healthcare bills once MediShield Life kicks in next year.

Speaking at an appreciation dinner for the Pioneers living in Pasir Ris West on Saturday evening, Mr Teo, who is also MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, highlighted two key features of MediShield Life that pioneers should take note of.

First, from next month, pioneers will get their annual Medisave top-ups to help pay for premiums.

And second, pioneers will receive specially subsidised MediShield Life premiums, which will be lower than their current premiums.

During the dinner, some 300 residents of Pasir Ris West were briefed on the benefits of the Pioneer Generation Package by actress Ms Lin Ruping in English, Teochew and Hokkien.

Seniors also had the opportunity to voice their concerns.

Mr Teo added that pioneers in their 80s and above will have their MediShield Life premiums fully covered through a combination of subsides and Medisave top-ups.

Mr Teo said: “With the Medisave top-ups, younger Pioneers from 65 to 79 will pay about half of the MediShield premiums that you are paying today. This will give our pioneers better peace of mind about their healthcare bills, and will also help their family, children and caregivers to have peace of mind as well.”

via DPM Teo assures pioneer generation over MediShield Life – Channel NewsAsia.

MediShield Life Review Committee unveils recommendations

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MediShield Life Review Committee

Cost of premiums a key concern, so subsidies and other financial assistance will be a permanent feature of the scheme, Ministry of Health says.

SINGAPORE: The Government on Thursday (June 5) accepted the MediShield Life Review Committee’s recommendation that it should bear most of the costs of the scheme, details of which were released the same day.

“The Government accepts the committee’s recommendation and will bear most of the cost of bringing in those with pre-existing conditions. In this way, the Government will help all Singaporeans, including those with pre-existing conditions and those who are currently excluded, achieve MediShield Life cover, while ensuring that premiums are kept affordable for policyholders,” the Ministry of Health said in a press statement.

Said Committee chairman Bobby Chin: “We have listened to what Singaporeans valued most in MediShield Life. Our recommendations will provide better protection against large hospital bills for all Singaporeans, for life.”

He added that the committee will finalise its recommendations in a month, with the scheme slated to be implemented by the end of 2015.

Among the recommendations announced on June 5 following months of consultation with the public and key stakeholders:

  • Removing the lifetime claim limit of S$300,000
  • Increasing annual claim limits by 40 per cent from S$70,000 to S$100,000
  • Increasing daily claim limits for normal and ICU wards by up to 55 per cent
  • Increasing claim limits for surgical procedures by 25 to 93 per cent
  • Increasing daily claim limits for community hospitals by 40 per cent, from S$250 to S$350
  • Increasing claim limits for outpatient cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • Lower co-insurance rates of 3 to 10 per cent, down from current 10 to 20 per cent
  • Premium rebates to start from age 66, instead of 71

‘MEDISAVE WITHDRAWAL LIMITS WILL BE SUFFICIENT’

While the ministry noted that increased payouts would mean higher premiums, the Government said it will ensure that Medisave withdrawal limits are sufficient for all MediShield Life premiums, while subsidies, financial assistance and other forms of funding support for the lower to middle-income will be a “permanent feature” of the scheme.

A transitional subsidy will also be provided over four years to help Singaporeans adjust to the premiums, the ministry said.

MediShield Life was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the 2013 National Day Rally with the aim of extending “coverage for life, coverage for all”, by providing better lifetime coverage for all Singaporeans for large subsidised bills.

via MediShield Life Review Committee unveils recommendations – Channel NewsAsia.

SDP submits proposals to MediShield Life panel

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The Singapore Democratic Party has sent their alternative healthcare plan to the Medishield Life Review Committee. (Image: Singapore Democratic Party)

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has put forward its healthcare proposals to the MediShield Life Review Committee and signalled its willingness to take part in consultations for the ongoing review of the insurance scheme.

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has put forward its healthcare proposals to the MediShield Life Review Committee and signalled its willingness to take part in consultations for the ongoing review of the insurance scheme.

Announcing the submission on its website, SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan said it looks forward to participating constructively in the consultation process and bringing a fresh and much-needed perspective to the topic.

His letter dated January 6 to MediShield Life Review Committee Chairman Bobby Chin was also published online.

MediShield is a basic medical insurance scheme designed to help patients meet large hospitalisation bills in B2 or C Class wards.

An 11-member committee was appointed in November and will submit its recommendations to the Health Ministry in May. Several focus group discussions have been held so far and enhancements are expected to be implemented next year.

The SDP’s submission consists of the party’s alternative healthcare plan launched in 2012 that proposes – among other suggestions – a single-payer universal healthcare system with the government managing a central health investment fund. It proposes that the government eventually foot about 75 per cent of healthcare spending, with the remainder privately funded.

Singaporeans and permanent residents will make annual contributions to the health investment fund, with singles earning more than S$1,500 monthly or married people whose family income exceeds S$3,500 contributing S$600 to S$700 a year. Those earning less would contribute less or be fully subsidised.

The SDP also proposes co-payments of 10 per cent for all medical services, with caps or limits in place, except for acute self-limiting illnesses such as normal colds as well as non-essential items such as aesthetic treatment.

The SDP said its scheme would make Medisave and MediShield redundant, while the Medifund endowment fund would be incorporated into the proposed health investment fund. Ward classes would also be removed at public hospitals.

The government currently shoulders about 33 per cent of healthcare costs and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said the proportion will go up to 40 per cent or more.

TODAY

via SDP submits proposals to MediShield Life panel – Channel NewsAsia.

More surgical procedures covered under Medisave, MediShield from 2014

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A hospital in Singapore (TODAY file photo)

More surgical procedures will be covered under Medisave and MediShield from January 2014, following the release of an updated Table of Surgical Procedures TOSP.

SINGAPORE: More surgical procedures will be covered under Medisave and MediShield from January 2014, following the release of an updated Table of Surgical Procedures (TOSP).

TOSP is a classification of surgical procedures based on their complexity.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said the changes will help patients reduce their out-of-pocket cash expenses.

About 1,600 surgical procedures listed on TOSP are currently claimable under Medisave and MediShield — and the number will increase to 2,350 in January.

They will include procedures that are relatively new and have become more common, such as a surgery for abnormal heart rhythm, called Maze surgery.

Other than adding new procedures, MOH has also re-classified existing procedures to better reflect their complexity.

This means patients will not have to pay as much for less complicated surgeries.

Surgeries are categorised into 21 tables, running from Tables 1A, 1B, 1C through to Tables 7A, 7B, 7C, in order of complexity.

For example, total knee replacement is now classified under TOSP as a single procedure on Table 6B, but with the changes, it will be divided into three categories, ranked according to complexity.

The Singapore General Hospital (SGH), which sees about 2,000 knee replacements a year, said the changes will benefit their patients.

Professor Tan Ser Kiat, emeritus consultant at SGH’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, said: “The majority of the patients will then pay less compared to what they are paying today, because 70 per cent of the patients fall into the primary simple total knee replacement, which is table 6A.

“Today, all total knee replacements are classified as table 6B, which is one table higher than what is being proposed. The patients probably will pay somewhere in the region of 10 to 15 per cent less than what they would do today.”

Professor Tan added that patients which fall under the knee replacement revision category, which is a more complex procedure, will have to pay more than previously.

But he said this is fair, as the surgery requires more time and skill.

The changes were made in consultation with clinicians from various surgical backgrounds in both the public and private sector.

TOSP will be reviewed regularly, in order to keep up with future medical advances.

– CNA/nd

via More surgical procedures covered under Medisave, MediShield from 2014 – Channel NewsAsia.

Cost of MediShield Life premiums still a work in progress

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The Ministry of Health MOH is trying to work out the number of MediShield policy holders who have pre-existing illnesses not covered by the insurance scheme. This is to help determine the cost of the new MediShield Life.

SINGAPORE: The health ministry is trying to work out the number of people with MediShield who have pre-existing illnesses not covered by the insurance scheme to help determine the cost of the new MediShield Life.

When the scheme comes into effect, it will cover everyone for life and include pre-existing illnesses.

Premiums are expected to go up with the scheme’s expansion, but Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said the government is committed to keeping it affordable for life.

Some 80 people on Sunday questioned the health minister directly on the latest health care policies at a dialogue organised by national feedback agency REACH.

Only 8 per cent of Singaporeans are not covered by MediShield; however, when the new MediShield Life takes effect, everyone including those with pre-existing illnesses will be covered for life.

This means premiums must go up to cover the increased payouts.

Mr Gan said: “(We are) going through our records, going through our hospitals, checking the numbers to have a better sense of what’s the size of the impact of MediShield Life, but it will benefit all Singaporeans going forward, because all Singaporeans will be included.”

A universal healthcare insurance that will provide more security for Singaporeans struck a chord with many of the participants Channel NewsAsia spoke to at the dialogue. But there were questions on how it would affect specific groups of people, for example, pensioners.

Lee Lan Yong, a pensioner, said: “For MediShield Life, the government said it’s mandatory. For me, I think, as a pensioner, (I) need not take MediShield Life … (as) 85 per cent of my (medical) bill is already covered by the government.”

Some participants also asked whether the insurance will cover people who are terminally ill, such as those suffering from HIV.

Daniel Goh, a salesperson, said: “I felt that universal coverage should cover everyone, not exclude any portion of the population.”

The health ministry is working out the scheme’s premium structure, its benefits, and who needs help.

Mr Gan said: “What the government has committed is to make sure that the premium for MediShield Life will be affordable for all Singaporeans, and for life. Regardless of age, we want to make sure they are affordable.”

MediShield Life is expected to be ready by 2015.

– CNA/gn

via Cost of MediShield Life premiums still a work in progress – Channel NewsAsia.

Health experts welcome healthcare recommendations


Geylang Polyclinic (Photo/Channel NewsAsia/Try Sutrisno Foo)

Health experts have welcomed the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health’s report on making healthcare more affordable, which they say reflects the main concerns of the average Singaporean.

SINGAPORE: Health experts have welcomed the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health’s report on making healthcare more affordable, which they say reflects the main concerns of the average Singaporean.

One of the recommendations made by the committee was to ensure that no one drops out from MediShield — a medical insurance scheme that covers large hospitalisation bills.

The committee had suggested that the government step in to guarantee the continuity of MediShield coverage for Singaporeans who cannot afford to pay.

Experts said it is a positive step forward but suggested that MediShield be further strengthened to cover more catastrophic conditions and lessen the burden for older Singaporeans.

Associate Professor Phua Kai Hong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said: “You could tweak the premium rates so the older age groups can be cross-subsidised by the younger age groups, or you could widen the band. Right now it’s very age specific.

“You can widen the band and say maybe before you retire, you have to start paying higher premiums so that when you actually retire and don’t have the money, your premiums will be lowered and over a lifetime you can spread out premium rates.

“The way MediShield was designed in the past was like a private scheme… it wasn’t designed like a social insurance. Many of the premiums are risk adjusted which means that it’s going to be quite unfair to the older age groups who are not working to pay high premiums.”

Dr Phua also said that a constant review of the Medisave amount used by individuals to support their family members is important, so that accounts are not prematurely depleted.

“I would suggest that we tweak and adjust it to the rates of inflation and you don’t have to wait for every few years before all the problems start. If you do it very regularly, like say every year, then it should be adequate.”

Experts also cautioned that the recommendation of the standard drug list to cover more essential drugs must apply to local usage.

Jeremy Lim, principal consultant at Insights Health Associates, said: “When we talk about the standard drug list, we are talking about drugs that are used for common conditions by fairly large numbers. Certain drugs that may be subsidised in England or in some other countries may be used to treat relatively rare diseases here so it doesn’t make sense for these drugs to be in the standard drug list.”

While experts generally agree with the recommendations in the report, some of them had hoped that it had covered more on Medifund, which is the government’s endowment fund to help needy Singaporeans with medical expenses.

– CNA/jc

via Health experts welcome healthcare recommendations – Channel NewsAsia.

MediShield Life premium increases to be affordable: Health Minister


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.”

– CNA/gn

via MediShield Life premium increases to be affordable: Health Minister – Channel NewsAsia.

Coverage for MediShield, Medisave may be extended further: Health Minister

Medisave, MediShield may be used for outpatient treatments & home-based hospice care, says Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in a two-hour wide-ranging dialogue with over 100 participants.

Medisave, MediShield may be used for outpatient treatments & home-based hospice care, says Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in a two-hour wide-ranging dialogue with over 100 participants.

SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said his ministry is “seriously considering” the idea of expanding the coverage of the MediShield – a national health insurance scheme – to go beyond just hospitalisation treatments.

Speaking at a post-budget dialogue session on Sunday, he said the ministry may also free up the use of Medisave – a national medical savings scheme – to include home-based hospice care.

Over 100 participants engaged the Health Minister in the two-hour wide-ranging dialogue.

Some wanted to know what more is being done to ramp up capacity in the healthcare sector.

But affordability was a key concern, with calls to expand the coverage of current financing schemes such as Medisave and MediShield.

Mr Gan said his ministry is aware that there are some outpatient treatments which can be costly and where insurance coverage under the MediShield may be useful.

So he’s studying how the scheme can be expanded further.

The key is in striking a balance, so that premiums remain affordable.

Mr Gan said: “One area is say for example – chronic diseases. So whether we want to cover that, is something that we need to discuss, we need to explore and we need to also think through very carefully, because if we include too many items, the premiums will also go up for insurance. So we need to strike a balance between providing coverage as well as the cost of insurance.”

The ministry will also study ways to help Singaporeans pay for the insurance premiums.

As for the use of Medisave, Mr Gan said extending it to cover home-based hospice care is one possibility.

But he said authorities need to be mindful about the many competing demands.

“There was request for extension to screenings, extension to hospice care and so on. These are all reasonable desires but at the end we still need to prioritise them, because after all Medisave balances are still limited, there’s a finite pool and we want to make best use of the finite pool of savings that Singaporeans have,” Mr Gan said.

The need to attract more locals into the healthcare sector was another concern and there were suggestions for salaries to be raised. Mr Gan assured that salaries will be kept competitive and that another round of review is likely to take place this year or next year.

As for capacity, Mr Gan said the ministry is also working with private hospitals to tap on their capacity to cater to subsidised patients.

– CNA/ck – http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1262078/1/.html

Health Minister Gan on MediShield enhancements

Patients at a hospital in Singapore

SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has stressed the importance of insurance in a country’s healthcare financing.

He said the government wants to encourage lower-income families to be covered by its insurance scheme, MediShield.

Mr Gan said this in response to questions from reporters, on his ministry’s plan to provide wider coverage from the first quarter of next year.

He said it has to calibrate MediShield enhancements very carefully, including extending coverage for congenital and neo-natal conditions.

“We also are concerned that, whether by introducing this additional insurance, we will actually increase the cost of treatment. Because once it is covered by insurance, parents and doctors may pursue more expensive treatment and overall, this may raise the cost of healthcare for children in Singapore,” said Mr Gan.

“We need to calibrate it so that there is a balance between benefits covered by the insurance, as well as the cost of the insurance premium, to ensure that the benefits remain relevant and effective and at the same time, the premium remains affordable,” he added.

Mr Gan was speaking to the media at the end of his Ministerial walkabout to the Bukit Timah division of the Holland-Bukit Timah GRC.

With the enhancements, patients will be able to claim more – up to S$70,000 for their hospital bills annually, compared with the current S$50,000.

The lifetime limit will be increased from S$200,000 to S$300,000 to help policyholders who face exceptionally large bills, such as undergoing multiple surgeries after an accident.

The Health Ministry said MediShield deductibles will also be adjusted accordingly, as medical bills have become more expensive over the years.

With the extended coverage and payouts, MediShield premiums will have to be raised.

But the Health Ministry said for the vast majority of policyholders, the increase in premiums will be less than S$10 a month.

And with the additional government support given at this year’s Budget, Singaporeans aged 65 and below will have to fork out no more than S$5 per month in the next two years.

For the elderly, their premiums will be largely offset by the annual and one-time Medisave top-ups.

They will, in fact, see a decrease in premiums payable.

CNA/cc

Budget should do more for elderly and those with low incomes: AWARE

SINGAPORE – Ahead of the Budget to be delivered next Friday, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has unveiled its wish-list, with an emphasis on supporting the elderly and the low-income, and also better subsidies for infant care and childcare.

Noting that caregivers are mainly women, AWARE proposed that subsidies should be given for the long-term care of elderly family members and that all Singaporeans over 85 years old should be provided with free MediShield coverage for life.

Medisave accounts should be periodically topped up from budgetary surpluses, in proportion to the age of the recipient as well as household income, said AWARE in a statement yesterday.

It also suggested that a specified percentage of a husband’s Central Provident Fund monies be deposited into his stay-at-home wife’s Medisave account, or incentives be given for the husband to top up his stay-at-home wife’s Medisave account.

“Most caregivers in Singapore are women, who often experience adverse results for professional advancement and long-term financial security, due to lack of support. The Budget needs to reflect the state’s commitment to supporting women in both the workplace and at home,” the association said.

Other proposals include revising upwards the eligibility criteria for ComCare and Public Assistance to include household incomes of more than S$1,500 per month up to the 30th percentile, and restoring public spending to up to 25 per cent of the gross domestic product as the population ages.

AWARE also proposed that access to childcare subsidies, motherhood benefits and housing benefits should be widened to include all mothers, without discrimination against unwed or stay-at-home mothers.

Paid paternity leave of two weeks should be made mandatory, while one month of the current four-month maternity leave should be converted to parental leave to be taken by either spouse, it suggested.

Meanwhile, there should also be free or subsidised medical benefits for persons with disabilities, including financial support for the cost of rehabilitation, medicine, treatment and health insurance.

This is the second year AWARE is submitting feedback for the Budget. The full report can be found at http://www.aware.org.sg/2012/02/aware-calls-for-an-inclusive-2012-singapore-budget/.

Read More: TodayOnline

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