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By now, most of us who are 30 and above would have heard of CareShield Life. If, like me, you were born between 1980 or later, you are automatically enrolled into CareShield Life from 1 October 2020, or when you turn 30, regardless of pre-existing disability.
If you (or your loved ones) are born in 1979 or earlier, you were automatically enrolled in an earlier insurance plan called ElderShield at the age of 40, unless you had opted out of the scheme. From 2020, there will be no auto-enrolments into ElderShield.
You and your loved ones can now also choose to enrol into CareShield Life, as long as you are not severely disabled. If you have existing ElderShield plans, you can also upgrade to CareShield Life.
The table below summarised the decision (or non-decision) you need to make.
|Age Group||CareShield Life|
|Singaporeans born in 1980 or later||Automatically enrolled into CareShield from 1 October 2020, or when they turn 30, whichever is later. No opt-outs.|
|Singaporeans born between 1970 and 1979, who were on ElderShield 400 and not severely disabled as of 1 December 2021||Automatically enrolled into CareShield Life from 1 December 2021.
Can choose to opt out of CareShield Life and remain on ElderShield by 31 December 2023 if they do not wish to upgrade to CareShield Life.
|Singaporeans born in 1979 and earlier||Can choose to upgrade from ESH to CSHL or enrol into CSHL, if individual is not severely disabled.
There is no maximum age for joining CareShield Life. However, those who join by 31 December 2023 will receive participation incentives of up to $4,000, spread out over 10 years, to offset their premiums.
This article focuses on a subset of the third group – individuals born in 1979 or earlier, and had previously chosen to opt-out of ElderShield.
Neither Covered By CareShield Life Or ElderShield Currently
In 2002, ElderShield was introduced for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents. Upon turning 40, you were automatically enrolled into ElderShield if you were not severely disabled.
Depending on the plan you have, ElderShield provides monthly cash payouts of $300 per month for up to 60 months (under ESH300 plan), or $400 per month for up to 72 months (under ESH400 plan), in the event of severe disability.
The criteria for severe disability are when a person is unable to perform at least 3 out of 6 Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) as shown below:
While ElderShield enrolment was automatic, it was not compulsory. Those who were auto-enrolled had the option to opt-out of ElderShield.
Enrolling Into CareShield Life Even After Opting Out For ElderShield
There are good reasons to consider enrolling into CareShield Life, even for those who had chosen to opt out of ElderShield.
From our perspective, the first and strongest reason why long-term care insurance like CareShield Life is vital, is that severe disability is likely to affect many of us at some point in our lives, whether it occurs to us or our loved ones.
According to a MOH study based on local and international data, 1 in 2 healthy Singaporeans aged 65 and above could become severely disabled during their lifetime and would require long-term care. Severe disability could arise due to a sudden disabling event (e.g. stroke and spinal cord injuries), the worsening of chronic conditions and diseases (e.g. diabetes), or the progression of illnesses as we age (e.g. dementia). Do note that the statistics mentioned above do not preclude younger people who may also suffer from severe disability if an unfortunate accident or illness occurs.
If you or your loved ones are one of those who had opted out of ElderShield previously, you may wish to consider enrolling into CareShield Life. Of course, even if you are currently enrolled into ElderShield, you can also choose to upgrade to CareShield Life for better coverage.
In our view, the most significant difference is that CareShield Life payouts are for life, as opposed to ElderShield where it’s capped at 60 or 72 months. This is vital because lifetime payouts eliminate the risk that a severely disabled policyholder could outlive the payout duration, and provide assurance that payouts will continue for as long as the policyholder lives.
In addition, CareShield Life payouts will increase annually until age 67 or when a successful claim is made. Once a successful claim is made, the payout amount will remain fixed for the duration of the severe disability.
Unlike ElderShield, which used to be administered by private insurers, CareShield Life is administered by the Government. Claim process for CareShield Life can be initiated through a MOH-accredited severe disability assessor with the first disability assessment fee waived. You can find out more about the process here.
Premium Subsidies For Those Who Wish To Transit To CareShield Life
You have to pay CareShield Life premiums until the age of 67 or for 10 years, whichever is later. Once you start claiming, your premium payment will cease. Your CareShield Life premiums can be fully paid for using your MediSave. Family members (e.g., spouse, parent, child, sibling or grandchild) can also tap on their MediSave to support one another’s CareShield Life premiums.
While CareShield Life premiums are understandably higher than ElderShield given the higher and lifetime payouts one enjoys, the good news is that there will be Government support for Singaporeans who wish to enrol into CareShield Life.
The following Government support is available if you are intending to upgrade from ElderShield to CareShield Life, or are not currently covered by ElderShield:
#1 Mean-Tested Premium Subsidies for Singaporeans
Means-tested premium subsidies of up to 30% of base premiums of CareShield Life, to help lower- to middle-income households.
#2 Participation Incentives for Singapore Citizens born in 1979 or earlier who join CareShield Life by 31 December 2023
Participation incentives of up to $2,500 for Singapore Citizens to encourage those born in 1979 or earlier to enrol into CareShield Life by 31 December 2023.
Additional participation incentives of $1,500 for Merdeka and Pioneer Generation citizens if they enrol into CareShield Life by 31 December 2023.
For example, my parents, who are part of the Merdeka Generation (MG) / Pioneer Generation (PG), will enjoy participation incentives of $4,000 ($400 a year) if they opt to switch from ElderShield to CareShield Life. This is on top of the mean-tested premium subsidies that they also enjoy. I can also pay their premiums using my MediSave.
Of course, even if you are not currently on ElderShield, but would like to enrol into CareShield Life, you will also enjoy these participation incentives and mean-tested premium subsidies.
#3 Additional Premium Support
Last but not least, if you cannot afford your CareShield Life premiums even after the premium subsidies and family support, you may also be eligible for Additional Premium Support from the Government. The idea here is that no Singaporean will lose their CareShield Life coverage due to genuine inability to afford their premiums.
You can check your premium and the amount of Government support you are eligible for via CareShield Life Premium Checker. For those who are not automatically enrolled into CareShield Life but are keen to sign up for it, you can sign up here using your SingPass. You can also plan for your parents/ grandparents’ long-term care needs by having a chat with them to find out if they are currently insured under ElderShield or CareShield Life. You can help them to log into the CareShield Life website using their SingPass to check their coverage, and find out about the benefits and the Government support they can enjoy if they sign up.