Did you know? All Singaporeans and PRs are covered by basic health insurance, which is paid for with MediSave.

We are automatically enrolled into CPF’s MediShield Life and must pay the premiums for it throughout their lifetime.

It's no better time to read up on MediShield Life because premiums will likely increase in the near future! Let's read about the changes first.

Contents: 2020 review of MediShield Life | What is MediShield Life plan | MediShield Life cover | Medishield Life premiums and subsidies (Eligibility)Medishield Life claims and benefits | Integrated shield plans

2020 review of MediShield Life 

The MediShield Life Council recently announced that there will be a review of the insurance scheme. This is the first major review since MediShield Life’s introduction in 2015.

The changes are likely to kick in early next year. Some recommendations include 

  • Increasing the policy year claim limit

  • Higher claim limits for daily ward and treatment charges

  • Include treatments arising from attempted suicide, drug addiction and alcoholism (previously in exclusions list)

Since the benefits are expected to be enhanced as above, the premiums are also expected to increase by about 35% before subsidies. You can read more about the specific enhancements and changes in this TODAY report. A public consultation is also currently in progress until 20 October 2020, and you can submit your feedback here


What is MediShield Life? 

Still need a refresher on what exactly MediShield Life is?

MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan by the government (Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board). It covers all Singaporeans and PRs, regardless of age and pre-existing conditions. 

In case you’re a complete newbie to health insurance, how it works is that you have to pay an insurance premium (in this case, from your MediSave account). This insurance then helps you to pay for expensive medical bills.

What does MediShield Life cover?

As mentioned, MediShield Life is a very basic, mandatory insurance for all Singaporeans, so don’t expect to check into Mount Elizabeth and make a claim for every single thing billed.

MediShield Life covers subsidised treatment in public hospitals, and only large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatment, like dialysis and chemotherapy.

If you want to stay in private hospitals or in A or B1 wards at public hospitals, you will need to pay the difference out of your own pocket. Although technically, you will still benefit from some MediShield Life subsidy, the amount will only be a small portion of your bill as MediShield Life payouts are pegged at B2 or C ward types.

Medishield Life premiums and subsidies 

Your MediShield Life premium payable depends on your age and subsidies eligible. Before subsidy, the annual premiums go from $130 to $1,530. You can refer to this table by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for the 2019/2020 premium rates

Since this is a compulsory scheme, if you can’t pay the premiums due to financial difficulties, there are subsidies in place to help.

If you live in residences with annual value (AV) under $21,000 and have a household monthly income under $2,800, then you’re eligible for MediShield premium subsidies. The below table is for those with AV up to $13,000. If yours is $13,001 to $21,000, minus 10 percentage points to the subsidy (i.e. 25% is reduced to 15%).

Age next birthday Lower-income (<$1,200 monthly) Lower-middle-income ($1,201 to $2,000 monthly) Upper-middle-income ($2,001 to $2,800)
1 to 40 25% 20% 15%
41 to 60 30% 25% 20%
61 to 75 35% 30% 25%
76 to 85 40% 35% 30%
86 to 90 45% 40% 35%
Above 90 50% 45% 40%

There are also subsidies for the Pioneer and Merdeka Generations which go up to 60%. You may refer to MOH for a compilation of the various MediShield Life subsidies.

… Or, if you’re lazy like us, use MOH’s official MediShield Life calculator. All subsidies are automatically applied, so no action is needed on your part.

Medishield Life claims and benefits

MOH has a comprehensive summary table of the MediShield Life benefits covered (see above). Generally, if you’re hospitalised, you can claim $700/day for a normal ward, and $1,200/day if in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There’s also coverage for psychiatric treatment, the benefit is up to $100/day, capped at 35 days per policy year.

For surgical procedures, it depends on the surgery. It’s in the hundreds for the more straightforward ones, and go up to over $2k for the more complex surgeries. You can also claim for selected outpatient treatment. The benefit is $3,000/month for chemotherapy, $140 to $1,800 per radiotherapy treatment and $1,000 /month for dialysis.

The maximum claimable limit is $100,000 per policy year. There is no lifetime limit.

If you have no other health insurance (see integrated shield plans (IP) below) and are at a public hospital, all claims are automatically processed and handled by the staff. If you have an IP, then contact your insurance agent for help regarding claims.

Do note that MediShield Life plans have a deductible and co-insurance component, which requires you fork out a small amount before you can claim the rest.

Integrated shield plans 

As you can see from above, the coverage for MediShield Life is very basic. If you’re seriously looking into health insurance, then it’s probably not as comprehensive as you’d like it to be. If you want better coverage and/or want to stay at private hospitals or the more premium ward types at public hospitals, then you can consider enhancing your MediShield Life plan with an Integrated Shield Plan.

Integrated Shield Plans comprise 1) MediShield Life and 2) private insurance coverage providing additional benefits and coverage (e.g. to cover the costs of private hospitals or A/B1-type wards in the public hospitals).

You can use MediSave to pay the MediShield Life component, but the private insurance premium is subject to the following withdrawal limits:

  • $300 per year for those at age 40 years and below on their next birthday

  • $600 per year for those at age 41 to 70 years on their next birthday

  • $900 per year for those at age 71 years and above on their next birthday.

There are many Integrated Shield Plans offered by private insurers like AIA, Aviva, AXA and more. You can compare them by class and private hospital coverage on MOH’s website.

Whether it’s about buying yourself a peace of mind or a safety net in case of unexpected medical expenses, we believe in the importance of health insurance. If you haven’t already started planning for it, we encourage you to start researching your options today!

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GoBear team

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