While CPF top-ups have been increasing recently as more Singaporeans become better educated about the advantages of utilising their CPF accounts, MediShield Life has not received the same amount of interest or positive attention from Singaporeans.
MediShield Life is a health insurance scheme that provides all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents with universal and lifelong basic protection against large healthcare bills. This ensures that healthcare remains affordable for Singaporeans. When we consider the quality of healthcare in Singapore, this means that we are receiving both affordable and quality healthcare.
#1 MediShield Life Covers All Pre-Existing Conditions And All Ages
As a family member of someone with pre-existing conditions (i.e. hypertension and diabetes), I know that buying insurance can be a daunting process. Insurers would often require extra medical screenings, extensive documentation and still tack on additional loading to the insurance premiums.
However, MediShield Life will cover all pre-existing conditions without additional loading. Importantly, if you are eligible for MediShield Life later in life, (i.e. upon receiving Permanent Residency or are born before the implementation of MediShield Life), you would be fully covered by MediShield Life. Inherited or congenital conditions, which may be considered pre-existing conditions by private insurers, are also covered under MediShield Life.
In the event that your private insurer excludes your coverage for pre-existing conditions, you can rest assured that you are still covered under MediShield Life.
#2 You Cannot Separate Your MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plan
Occasionally you may hear someone claim that they don’t need MediShield Life because they have private health insurance.
However, even if you have private health insurance, most likely it is an Integrated Shield Plan if you are Singaporean. This means that you are still covered under MediShield Life and have to pay the MediShield Life premiums.
Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) provide the benefits provided under MediShield Life and the benefits of additional private insurance coverage. The portion of additional private insurance coverage is run by private insurers and does not duplicate the coverage of MediShield Life. You cannot buy an Integrated Shield Plan without also paying for MediShield Life.
For foreign residents (i.e. non-Singapore Citizens and non-Permanent Residents) who cannot join MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans, they can consider International Private Medical Insurance which provides health insurance coverage internationally.
#3 You Cannot Have More Than One MediShield Life / Integrated Shield Plan
As all Integrated Shield Plans are tied to MediShield Life and you can only hold one MediShield Life, you are also limited to only one Integrated Shield Plan.
This is unlike other types of insurance where you can have multiple life insurance plans and claim from multiple insurers. Once you buy a new Integrated Shield Plan from a private insurer, your old Integrated Shield Plan would automatically be terminated once your new plan comes into effect.
#4 Your Employer Medical Benefits Will Pay For Your Medical Claims First
Unlike critical care insurance where you can have multiple policies and multiple payouts, you cannot have duplicate payouts for MediShield Life. This means that if your medical expenses are covered by another insurer, you would not be able to claim from MediShield Life.
The Ministry of Health has set out a claims protocol for the order of payment:
- Employer, private insurance, other third party pays first
- Followed by MediShield Life (MSHL)/Integrated Shield Plan (IP)
- Then MediSave
- Then Cash
MediShield Life will pay for the portion of the bill that is not covered by employer, private insurance and any third-party payers. This payment is subject to MediShield Life claim limits, deductible and co-insurance.
#5 MediShield Life Does Cover Pregnancy And Delivery Complications
In general, MediShield Life doesn’t cover maternity expenses. Instead, new mothers can tap on the marriage and parenthood schemes which allow the use of MediSave for maternity expenses. For example: new mothers are able to withdraw up to $900 from the couple’s MediSave to pay for pre-delivery medical expenses, $750 to $2,150 for the delivery procedure, and $450 for each day’s hospital stay.
MediShield Life does cover the inpatient treatment of serious pregnancy and delivery complications, such as eclampsia and pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, ectopic pregnancy, hydatidiform mole and subsequent complications.
Other conditions that are not specific to pregnancy and delivery, such as appendicitis during pregnancy and cardiomyopathy suffered after delivery, are also covered under MediShield Life.
#6 MediShield Life Does Cover Inpatient Psychiatric Treatment
While mental health is becoming more important, health insurance coverage for mental health treatments is still catching up. MediShield Life is one of the few health insurances available that covers inpatient psychiatric treatment.
The claim limits for inpatient psychiatric treatment are set at $160 per day to a maximum of 60 days a year. However, MediShield Life does not cover treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism, social overstayers and outpatient treatments.
Instead, MediSave can be used for outpatient treatment of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. This withdrawal is allowed under the Chronic Disease Management Programme, up to a limit of $500 a year.
#7 MediShield Life Covers End Of Life Care
For those worried about their end of life, MediShield Life also provides coverage for those who require end of life care, specifically for Inpatient Hospice Palliative Care Service at inpatient hospitals and community hospitals.
The MediShield Life claim limits are $250 per day for general palliative care and $350 per day for specialised palliative care.
#8 You Can Suspend Your MediShield Premium Collection If You Reside Overseas Permanently
The one exception for Singapore Citizens to not be part of MediShield Life is if they are residing overseas permanently.
To suspend your MediShield premium collections, you must be a Singapore Citizen who is living overseas permanently without the intent to reside in Singapore. Do note that to show that you intend to reside overseas permanently, you must have a permanent residence permit or visa. You also cannot return to Singapore for more than 140 days in total in the past 5 years. You also cannot make any MediShield Life claims in the 5 years before the suspension.
This means that if you are studying or working overseas, you would still have to pay your MediShield Life premiums. Only when you have secured a permanent residency overseas would you be eligible to suspend the payments.
If you are a Singapore Permanent Resident (PR), you are not eligible for suspension as PRs have applied to reside in Singapore permanently.
#9 You Have To Repay Interest If You Choose To Relocate Back To Singapore And Resume MediShield Life Coverage
In the event you have applied for MediShield Life payment suspension and then choose to relocate back to Singapore, you can resume MediShield Life coverage.
In order to resume MediShield Life coverage, you will need to pay the full sum of premiums suspended and the compound interest accrued. The interest rate is currently set at 4% per year. This means that if you stopped premium payments for 5 years, you would have to repay the premium payments and the compound interest these payments would have accumulated at 4% p.a. for the 5 years.
Fortunately, you would still be eligible for any prevailing subsidies as if you were in Singapore during the period of payment suspension. These subsidies will be included into the total amount of premiums you would need to repay to resume MediShield Life coverage when you relocate back to Singapore
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