In Singapore, one of the chief concerns among old and young, expats and citizens, PRs, EPs and DPs alike, is healthcare. The Central Provident Fund, Medisave accounts and the introduction of the MediShield program have ensured that Singaporean citizens and PRs are well provided for.
On 1 November 2015, a new development in public healthcare came in to effect, which everyone in Singapore, including expats, should be aware of – the launch of the new MediShield Life program.
What is the relevance of this new scheme to expats? Well, all that depends on your citizen status and your medical coverage needs. Here, Pacific Prime Singapore examines MediShield Life and what it means for your family’s health insurance.
New scheme for improved benefits
As the Ministry of Health’s website states, “MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan, administered by the Central Provident Fund Board, which helps to pay for large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments.” The new MediShield Life plan may sound similar to the MediShield plans of the past, but there are three key differences:
1. It is mandatory for all Singaporean citizens and permanent residents; all citizens and PRs will automatically be enrolled in the scheme, even if they do not want it. Furthermore, if a person is able to afford the costs of the insurance, but does not wish to enroll, the government will charge a fee of up to 17% of the premium owed. It is therefore ill-advised not to take part in the program.
2. Those in need of financial assistance will receive government subsidies. This is important because MediShield Life plans are generally more costly than those under MediShield.
3. Finally, perhaps in part thanks to the higher premiums, there are added benefits with higher payouts under MediShield Life versus MediShield, and there is no longer a maximum age for receiving these benefits.
For those with Employment Passes
Expats working under employment passes have no access to any form of subsidies in public facilities; this includes Medishield Life and Central Provident Fund. So, if you are on an EP, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to the changes in legislation for this government scheme. However, as you have no government subsidies for medical cover, you must secure comprehensive medical insurance to cover your potential hospital bills.
This appears to be even more important now that changes in the Medishield Life Plan have come in to effect – those covered by it will enjoy extended levels of benefits than under previous plans, and it’s likely that this will therefore cause a higher consumption of these services; it’s expected that costs for medical care and treatments will increase. A recent report from Pacific Prime on Medical Inflation highlights this trend and its reasons.
For Permanent Residents
Expats in Singapore who are permanent residents will be enrolled in the MediShield Life scheme, but that is not the end of the story. There are some factors that should be considered in deciding whether the coverage provided by MediShield Life insurance is enough to address the needs of your family.
For one, the new scheme is meant to provide coverage for people within public hospital wards sharing a room with other up to three other patients (Ward B2 and below). This means that benefits will not be paid for a private hospital or private room.
Do you need private health insurance?
The majority of expats in Singapore are holders of Employment Passes and would absolutely be well advised to purchase a private medical insurance plan for themselves and their families while in Singapore.
This choice may require more consideration if you are a Permanent Resident. While MediShield Life plans offer access to public healthcare and provide quality medical insurance for inpatient treatment, there are areas where the insurance coverage provided has gaps. If you want comprehensive outpatient, dental, and maternity coverage for you and your family, it may be wise to look into private health insurance options that can supplement your MediShield Life plan.
If you decide that this route may be best for you, or you are an expat with no access to subsidized healthcare in Singapore whatsoever, the knowledgeable and helpful agents at Pacific Prime can help. They will provide you with plan comparisons and price quotations for a variety of plans, from major insurers in Singapore to international plans that can travel with you.
If you need medical assistance while travelling on holiday, visiting your home country, or even if you need to move elsewhere permanently, you will have continuous health insurance coverage, as well as your choice of care provider. Contact Pacific Prime for more information.