• Integrated Shield Plans in Singapore

    Some say falling sick in Singapore is scarier than going to jail! While this is clearly an exaggeration, the fact that the gross annual medical inflation rose by 10% in 2018 against the global average of 8.4% during the same period, raises questions about the adequacy of the subsidised medical care that the government offers to every eligible Singaporean citizen and permanent resident (PR).

    Allocation for healthcare in 2018 is about 2.2% of the country’s GDP and it is expected that the government will eventually bump it up to 3% of the GDP in the coming decade. While the life expectancy of the residents at birth continue to rise as supported by data from the Ministry of Statistics, abated by better healthcare standards and modern medicine, questions have been raised in the recent past about the ability of the residents, especially the elderly, to provide for the additional medical expenses, not covered by the basic healthcare plans.

    This is where the Integrated Shield Plans offered by private health insurers come into picture and assume significance. It’s like a KFC Combo plan. The bigger bucket you choose, the more value you derive! An integrated plan (or IP) covers the basic MediShield Life plan, offered by the government, and additional payments and coverage for admission to higher wards in public hospitals and private treatment, which significantly cost more.

    While loans can be your trusted lieutenants in the struggle against financial instability and rising inflation, they should better be avoided for quality healthcare which IPs can easily cover, at a much lower cost.

    Already 60% in the country are protected by these plans. Don’t stay on the other side of the curve simply because you believe that an integrated plan may increase your short-term cost involvement. Read through to discover what you and your dependents have been missing thus far.

    List of Approved Integrated Shield Plans

    If you’re looking for an IP in Singapore, you’ll have to choose from one of the six following options:

    • Aviva MyShield
    • Income IncomeShield
    • AXA AXAShield
    • AIA HealthShield Gold Max
    • Prudential PruShield
    • Great Eastern Supreme Health

    According to the Ministry of Health, Singapore website, the following shield plans are available as of 1 March 2018. Depending on the level of coverage, they have been divided into 5 categories – Basic plans, Standard Integrated Shield Plan, Class B1 plans, Class A plans, Private hospital plans.

    Let us now check the available options under each category:

    (A) Basic plans:

    • Income IncomeShield Plan C (no longer available to new members)
    • MediShield Life
    • Income Enhanced IncomeShield C

    (B) Standard Integrated Shield plans, which cover treatment in Class B1 of a public hospital:

    • Income IncomeShield Standard Plan
    • Aviva MyShield Standard Plan
    • Great Eastern Supreme Health Standard Plan
    • AIA HealthShield Gold Max Standard Plan
    • AXA Shield Standard Plan
    • Prudential PruShield Standard Plan

    (C) Class B1 plans:

    • Great Eastern Supreme Health B (no longer available to new members)
    • Great Eastern Supreme Health B Plus
    • Prudential PruShield B (no longer available to new members)
    • Income Enhanced IncomeShield Basic
    • Income IncomeShield Plan B (no longer available to new members)
    • Aviva MyShield Plan 3
    • AIA HealthShield Gold Max B Lite
    • AIA HealthShield Gold Max C (no longer available to new members)

    (D) Class A plans:

    • AXA Shield Plan B
    • Prudential PruShield A (no longer available to new members)
    • Prudential PruShield A Plus
    • Income IncomeShield Plan A (no longer available to new members)
    • Income Enhanced IncomeShield Advantage
    • Aviva MyShield Plan 2
    • AIA HealthShield Gold Max B
    • Great Eastern Supreme Health A Plus
    • Great Eastern Supreme Health A (no longer available to new members)

    (E) Private hospital plans:

    • Income Enhanced IncomeShield Preferred
    • Prudential PruShield A Premier
    • Income IncomeShield Plan P (no longer available to new members)
    • AIA HealthShield Gold Max A
    • AXA Shield Plan A
    • Aviva MyShield Plan 1
    • Great Eastern Supreme Health P Plus

    Although some of the plans listed above are no longer available to new subscribers, you can continue to renew them, if you’re an existing member of the plan.

    Can’t Choose the Right IP? Here Are Some Pointers

    Having a hard time picking the right Integrated Shield Plan? While the basic health cover component doesn’t vary, the inclusions and limits in the extended cover can certainly make a difference.

    Aside from this, there are some other service indicators that can help you narrow down your options. Remember, if you can choose the right plan from the beginning, it’ll save you the hassle of trial-and-error, a rather time-consuming process.

    The right insurer will also reduce your cost burden and provide you with excellent services at the right time. Greatest of all, you’ll enjoy the luxury of stability and peace of mind. Here are things you need to look for:

    • Time taken to process a valid claim request: Once you have submitted your claim, your IP provider takes some time to process your request. This includes the time an insurer may take to obtain/collect all the necessary supporting medical records from you or the treatment centre.

      No doubt, the faster your request is processed, the faster will be the reimbursement. The following table gives you an estimate of the claim request processing speed of the IP insurers in Singapore.

      Name of the Insurer Median Claims Processing Duration or the Time Taken for 50 Out of 100 Applications to be Processed 75th Percentile Claims Processing Duration or the Time Taken to Process 75 Out of 100 Applications
      AIA Within the same day 1 day
      AVIVA Within the same day 1 day
      Great Eastern 1 day 1 day
      Income Within the same day 1 day
      Prudential Within the same day 1 day

      (Source: Ministry of Health, Singapore)

      (Disclaimer: Data is accurate as of 30 June 2018)

      [Among the Integrated Shield Plan providers in Singapore, AXA was the last to resume their services. Since they haven’t processed a sufficient number of claim requests till date (as per the MOH Singapore website), they have been excluded from analysis.]

      The lesser the time needed to process your claim, the quicker will you be compensated. Hence, this could be an important factor in choosing/eliminating an insurer.

    • The cost of obtaining the necessary medical records: During the validation of your claim application, all insurers would obtain the supporting medical proofs and records. Now, they can obtain the records directly from the treatment facility or ask you to collect it and send it to them.

      Obtaining these records can be quite expensive and tedious. In Singapore, you may have to pay anywhere between S$75 and S$250 to obtain these records. Some IP insurers may choose to absorb this expense while others may let you bear it. Quite evidently, it does make a difference to your overall cost burden. Hence, collect more information from your insurer regarding this aspect of your cover.

    • Time taken to issue a Letter of Guarantee (LOG): This letter is issued by all IP providers to certain hospitals in Singapore. If you can obtain one of these from your insurer and submit it to the hospital, you can reduce the amount of upfront cash deposit you’ll have to make.

      This is usually provided as an additional service by an insurer although it may vary from one to another, depending on their respective terms and conditions. Based on the estimated bill amount and the conditions stated in your LOG, you may enjoy a full or partial waiver of the upfront cash deposit for hospitalisation- or surgery-related expenses.

      Now, the time required to issue such a letter or the conditions attached, can make a lot of difference. Also, depending on the clauses set by private insurers, the level of difficulty in obtaining a LOG may also vary. Hence, you must consider this factor when choosing your insurer.

    • The ratio of out-of-pocket expense to final reimbursement: Sometimes, you may have to not only pay the upfront cash at the time of admission but also settle the bill at the time of discharge. The care facility will fully reimburse the amount to you after it has received the payout from your insurer.

      Having to pay a large amount of cash from your pocket may not be easy for everyone. Hence, it becomes much more convenient if your insurer gets involved right from the beginning of your treatment. This reduces your out-of-pocket expenses and direct involvement, and makes life easier for you.

    Planning to Buy an IP? Consider These Before You Proceed Further

    Buying an IP is an important decision. Don’t rush into it. Consider the following before you choose a plan or decide whether you really need an IP after all:

    • Consider your ability to pay higher premiums for an IP. Is your income sufficient? You’ll have to consider not just your current income and savings patterns but also your future budget because the premiums generally increase with your age. Talk to a financial adviser, if necessary.
    • Are you happy with the services and benefits offered by the basic plan. If not, are you willing to pay a higher premium to access the enhanced benefits. Will this change benefit you in the long run?
    • Consider the riders. Are you satisfied knowing that you’ll be paying more for this particular rider? The main reason for upgrading to an Integrated Shield Plan is to not only enjoy treatment at a higher class or wards or a private clinic but also the discounts you get on deductibles, copayments, and higher claimable limits among other things. You can also receive cash payouts with certain riders.
    • Consider the various other charges and proration factors that we have already discussed.

    Not Sure If You Already Have an IP? Follow the Steps Mentioned Below to Verify

    According to the Ministry of Health data, 60% of eligible Singaporeans have private insurance covers in the form of IPs. But, despite paying premiums for IPs, many aren’t sure whether their plans actually offer the integrated plan coverage and the benefits or not. Do you have such doubts, too?

    Instead of blindly paying premiums without fully understanding the full extent of coverage accorded to you, follow the steps below to investigate:

    Step 1: Visit the official CPF website.

    Step 2: Log into your account, under the ‘My CPF Online Services’, using your SingPass ID.

    Step 3: Visit the ‘My Messages’ section.

    Step 4: Choose the ‘Insurance’ option.

    You can see the IP options available in the country. If you have one of the plans enumerated on the page, rest assured knowing that you’re covered under an integrated health insurance plan.

    Need to Make an IP Claim? Here Is How It Works

    Making a claim under an Integrated Shield Plan is easy. Simply inform your hospital or outpatient clinic that you want to make a claim. As soon as you authorise the hospital administration, it’ll raise a claim with MediShield Life or your private insurer.

    If you make a MediShield Life claim, the CPF Board will reimburse your hospital expenses. The payout will be made directly to the hospital by the Board. If you have an additional private cover, the full reimbursement will be made by the private insurer, including the MediShield Life portion of the payout. The Board will compensate the private insurer separately, only for the MediShield Life component. If your bill exceeds the IP claim limit, you’ll have to settle the remaining amount with your Medisave monies, subject to the additional withdrawal limit, and/or by cash.

    Before you authorise a claim request, here are certain other things you need to know. Every IP claim can be composed of 4 components - amount exceeding the claims limit, deductible, coinsurance pay, and the claim payout.

    Claim Components You Need to Be Aware Of

    Amount exceeding the claims limit: Data shows that only 1 out of 10 bills exceed the claims limit. In such cases, as discussed above, you’ll have to settle the portion with your Medisave savings or pay from your pocket.

    Under the basic life cover, the claims limit per policy year has been fixed at S$100,000. There is, however, no maximum coverage age or any lifetime coverage cap.

    Deductible: A deductible is the fixed amount of money you’ll have to pay in a policy year before your insurance coverage and benefits can be used. This amount has to be paid by you every year, after the policy renewal. Without making this payment, you won’t be able to claim coverage.

    The Board uses this component as a strainer to filter out small, manageable treatment expenses, for which you can legally make a claim. By charging you this component, the Board also manages to keep the MediShield Life fund sustainable and keep the premiums low.

    For the MediShield Life component, you’ll be charged an annual deductible at the following rate:

    Annual Deductible
    Type of Ward Age Up to 80 Age Above 80
    Class C S$1,500 S$2,000
    Class B2 & Above S$2,000 S$3,000

    For extended life covers, the private insurer will decide on the deductible value, the parameters, and the age/ward classifications. You can easily acquaint yourself with the details by referring to the respective policy document.

    Coinsurance: This is the amount that you’ll have to pay in addition to the deductible. It is expressed in the form of a percentage of the total claimable amount. The CPF Board charges coinsurance from 10% to 3%, depending on the treatment bill.

    This means, the bigger is your bill, the lower will be the rate of coinsurance and higher will be the payout from the Board.

    Under the MediShield Life policy regulations, coinsurance is based on various claimable amount bands. They’re as follows:

    Amount That Can Be Claimed Out of Your Total Inpatient and Day Surgery Expenses Percentage of Coinsurance
    S$0-S$3,000 10%
    S$3,001-S$5,000 10%
    S$5,001-S$10,000 5%
    Above S$10,000 3%

    For outpatient-treatment-related expenses, you’ll be charged 10% as coinsurance, irrespective of the bill amount. Much like the deductible, the coinsurance amount charged by a private insurer will depend on the insurer’s own parameters.

    Proration: The CPF Board has pegged the MediShield payout based on the subsidised treatment that Singaporean citizens receive at B2- and C-class wards for inpatient facilities and outpatient clinics at public hospitals.

    However, if you decide to get treated at a private hospital, non-subsidised outpatient clinic, or at a higher class of ward in a public hospital, the treatment costs are naturally going to be higher. If you make a MediShield Life claim in such a situation, the bill is going to be prorated first before the claim amount is calculated.

    If you’re a PR, the same principle and rule will apply to you. Since you’re permitted to claim only a portion of the amount that citizens can claim for treatments in wards C and B2 in public hospitals and fully subsidised outpatient departments, bills produced by PRs will also be prorated before the final claim computation.

    The proration factor that’ll be used for computing your claim will depend on the nature of the treatment and your status of residency in Singapore. The following table will give you a better idea:

    Type of Ward/Type of Subsidy Singapore Citizen Permanent Resident
    Class C 100% 44%
    Class B2 100% 58%
    Class B2+ 70% 47%
    Class B1 43% 38%
    Class A/private hospital 35% 35%
    Subsidised community hospital 100% 50%
    Non-subsidised community hospital 50% 50%
    Subsidised short-stay ward 100% 58%
    Non-subsidised short-stay ward 35% 35%
    Subsidised day surgery 100% 58%
    Non-subsidised day surgery 35% 35%
    Subsidised outpatient treatment 100% 67%
    Non-subsidised outpatient treatment 50% 50%

    (Source: The Central Provident Fund)

    As per the regulations, however, if you have incurred expenses on the purchase of immunosuppressants or on dialysis-related treatments, your bill won’t be prorated.

    If you’re wondering why you should be aware of the claim settlement methodologies and details, you can be presented with three pertinent reasons. They are as follows:

    • If you’re aware of the extent of coverage beforehand, you can choose your course of treatment and make associated considerations accordingly.
    • You can prevent any possible miscalculation and challenge the settlement amount offered by your insurer against a claim.
    • You won’t be duped easily.

    Why Do You Need to Be Aware of the Various Components of Integrated Plans (IPs)?

    Do you have a private insurance plan? It’s possible that it is an integrated plan that offers a higher coverage ratio against your medical costs.

    However, knowing the two components of an IP is important. That’s because the basic component or MediShield Life is provided by the government and is standard across all IPs. The difference in coverage occurs in the second component – Additional Private Insurance Coverage.

    This is a variable component and the competing insurers are only allowed to vary their value proposition with respect to this component. The prices and protections accorded, may differ depending on the plan you have chosen.

    Let’s focus our attention on the extent of coverage offered by the two components and how you stand to benefit from each:

    • MediShield Life: From November 2015, MediShield Life was introduced as a replacement for MediShield, to offer better basic coverage. Since this component is administered by the Government of Singapore or more specifically the Central Provident Fund Board, aiming to provide quality healthcare support to the public at subsidised costs, it is available to every Singaporean citizen or PR for life, irrespective of their age and pre-existing conditions.

      This plan provides cover for costs incurred at B2- and C-class wards at public hospitals in the country. The problem with this plan is that if you plan to get treated at a B1- or A-class ward in a public hospital or at a private healthcare facility, you’ll receive coverage for only a fraction of the overall cost because the degree of protection will be computed based on the expected costs in a B2- or C-class ward in a public hospital.

    • Additional Private Insurance Coverage: If you choose to upgrade from the MediShield Life plan to the Integrated Shield Plan, offered by a private insurer, you’ll get coverage for costs you’ll bear for private healthcare or at a Class A ward in a public hospital.

    This is simply an add-on to the MediShield Life plan. Remember, that both the MediShield Life plan and the additional cover are part of the IP, which means there is no possibility of duplicating your costs. Previously under this scheme, some private insurers offered their clients a full rider. This means, that clients protected by these riders, were exempt from payment of co-payment fees, a common feature of healthcare plans in Singapore, including the MediShield Life policy.

    Under the new rules, announced on 7 March 2018, new subscribers to Integrated Shield Plans, will have to bear a portion of their healthcare expenses, in the form of 5% co-payment. The aim, as per the government’s admission, is to encourage people to use their healthcare benefits responsibly and to discourage them from opting for unnecessary treatments, leading to steady annual medical inflation and a stressed heath delivery channel.

    However, the government has clarified that existing IP subscribers will be exempt from this new regulation. Also, if you have bought an IP with a full rider after the announcement for the new regulation was made, you’ll have time till 1 April 2021 to switch to an IP with built-in co-payment feature.

    You may have already started to realise the utility of an IP. Let’s get into the specifics now.

    Would You Really Find an Upgrade From the Basic Plan to an Integrated Plan Useful?

    As discussed already, the MediShield Life policy can only offer limited coverage. This definitely limits your options when it comes to being treated for chronic or terminal diseases. To state the same thing differently, you’ll have to bear a much larger share of the cost burden to access top-quality treatment in the country.

    With Additional Private Insurance Coverage, you’ll be able to choose the hospital, the ward, and the doctors you want for your treatment. Doesn’t that automatically translate to elevated peace of mind, not just for you but also your well-wishers?

    By rough estimates, the bigger your medical bill, the more will be the coverage ratio offered by an integrated plan. Also, the other important point that you need to note is that the additional premium you’ll be paying for an integrated shield plan is only a fraction of the premium that you’ll be paying for the basic MediShield Life plan. Therefore, the additional cost burden vis-à-vis benefits, isn’t significant.

    Here are the most common benefits you can get from an Integrated Shield Plan:

    • Inpatient treatment expenses such as the daily ward expense, intensive care/trauma unit expense, surgical expenses, implantations, transplantations, radiosurgery, pre- and post-hospitalisation care (up to a fixed number of days before/after admission/discharge, respectively), accidental dental treatments, and stay in a community hospital for up to a fixed number of days.
    • Outpatient treatment expenses such as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, renal dialysis, certain expensive drugs necessary for organ transplant, and certain drugs approved under the MediShield Life Plan for acute and long-term renal failure.
    • Special benefits which include coverage for inpatient psychiatric treatment, post-hospitalisation psychiatric treatment, treatment of pregnancy complications, prosthesis, congenital abnormalities, emergency overseas medical treatment, and final expenses (death).

    However, don’t spring into action just yet. You need to be aware of the associated risks, too. Check out the last subsection in this article before you take a decision.

    Time For You to Pay Your IP Premium? Here’s How You Can Pay

    The Government of Singapore subsidised health costs to ensure that you can have access to world-class healthcare facilities without having to lug unbearable financial stress. However, you’re also expected to do your part. You’ll have to pay your premiums in a timely fashion, whether it is for your MediShield Life plan or your extended private cover.

    For all Medisave-approved Integrated Plans, you’ll have the option to cover the premium for your MediShield Life using your Medisave monies. However, as discussed before, if you have additional riders that cover your coinsurance and deductible components, such riders can’t be paid off using your CPF Medisave Account (MA) savings.

    Apart from that, the additional withdrawal limit on your MA, which depends on your age, will also play a part in determining the portion of the total premium that you’ll have to pay from your pocket. This means that any amount exceeding the withdrawal limit have to be paid down with cash.

    The additional withdrawal limits for different age groups are as follows:

    • S$300 if you turn 40 years or below, on your next birthday.
    • S$600 if you turn between 41 years and 70 years, on your next birthday.
    • S$900 if you turn 71 years or more, on your next birthday.

    Let us make one thing very clear. The money that you can withdraw up to this additional cap, is in addition to what you can use for payment of MediShield Life premium.

    If your Medisave Account, however, doesn’t have sufficient balance, you can use the payment modes accepted by your private insurer to pay for the outstanding premium. Most insurers in Singapore usually offer the following modes of payment (not an exhaustive list):

    • Cash
    • Internet banking
    • Interbank GIRO
    • Crossed cheque

    Alternatively, if you have such a provision, you can enter into an agreement with your insurer to allow you to use the MA monies of one of your immediate family members - spouse, child, parent, or grandchild.

    Have Medisave Savings? Use It to Buy an Integrated Shield Plan or Pay for At Least a Part of Your IP Premium

    Under the Private Medical Insurance Scheme (PMIS), you can use your Medisave monies to buy IPs for yourself or your family. If you want, you can also use your MA monies to pay for the Medisave Life premium fully. This can reduce or completely eliminate the cash component of the total premium payable for an IP. However, if you’re insured by multiple integrated plans, you need to bear in mind that you’ll be able to use your MA monies to pay the premiums for one plan only.

    If you choose to use your CPF MA savings to settle the outstanding premiums of your basic healthcare policy, be at peace with yourself knowing that the Government of Singapore has put certain arrangements in place to help you with making timely premium payments:

    1. Ensuring that you don’t fall behind on your Medisave Account top-ups: The first step towards using MA savings for payment of MediShield Life premium is to have sufficient balance in the account. To ensure that you’re always current with your top-ups, the government has put in place regulations and overseeing agencies to ensure that your mandatory and voluntary contributions enter your CPF account on time.
    2. Permitting you to use the MA monies of a family member: If you’re short on your CPF account balance, you needn’t worry. If an immediate family member is willing to use their CPF monies to top up your MediShield Life plan, you can set up an arrangement with your insurer. The new payer will be intimated in writing about the arrangement after you have completed the formalities, and before any deduction is made. Alternatively, you can use the excess balance in your MA to pay the basic shield plan premiums for a family member. You’ll have the authority to review the arrangement periodically and make changes that you deem fit.
    3. Reminding you of payment deadlines: A busy life can sometimes make you oblivious to top-up/payment deadlines. To ensure that you don’t fall back on premium payments or endure an agonising experience when you suddenly realise that you don’t have sufficient balance to pay the MediShield Life premium, the government continues to send you reminder letters regularly.

    Your Medisave Account can be recharged using any one of the following payment modes:

    • E-payment services
    • AXS
    • NETS
    • Cheque made payable to the ‘CPF Board’
    • Cash
    • CashCard

    Don’t forget to download the relevant form from the CPF website, fill it up, and send it to the Board along with your payment.

    Have Defaulted on MediShield Life Premium Payments on Multiple Occasions? You Could Face Punitive Actions

    Bogged down with a financial crises and afraid that you may not be able to pay your MediShield Life premium on time? Don’t worry. The government provides multiple supportive premium payment measures to protect you and reduce your financial burden.

    However, if there’s one thing that is strongly discouraged and met with harsh deterrence measures, is wilful default. This is to ensure that the MediShield Life fund remains sustainable in the long run and manages to make healthcare affordable for the eligible.

    The government imposes harsh measures such as the following:

    1. Penalties: If you fail to make payments on multiple occasions without justifiable cause, the CPF Board may impose any amount, not exceeding 17% of the outstanding due, as penalty. In addition, you may be even asked to make good the interest that the MediShield Life fund is losing due to delayed payments. The second penalty, however, may only come into effect if numerous failures to make payments on time, are recorded.
    2. Premium recovery measures: If you, however, fail to pay up despite reminders and penalties, the government may resort to premium recovery measures. Some of these, extremely stringent measures, include:
      1. Offsetting the arrears against your encashable CPF monies.
      2. Legal action to realise the dues.
      3. Appointment of defaulter’s agents to recover the outstanding balance from you.
      4. Recovering the dues from the hospitalisation payout against your claim.
      5. Imposition of travel restrictions in the most serious of cases.
      6. Offsetting the outstanding dues against a one-time government surplus-sharing transfer.

    The Central Provident Fund Board and the Government of Singapore don’t take premium payment lapses lightly. Avoid this altogether if you want to stay on the right side of the regulators and the regulations.

    Need to Cancel Your IP? Follow the Steps Discussed Below

    Even though an Integrated Shield Plan can act as your ever-faithful protector against expensive medical treatments, there might come a time when you start feeling that its need in your life has diminished. In such a situation, you may feel that the value proposition isn’t appealing enough and the high premiums may also seem to be oppressive. Of course, you may also have an altogether different personal reason for cancellation of your IP.

    If you have reached such a phase, you may want to acquaint yourself with these necessary details:

    • Since your Integrated Shield Plan is being administered by a private insurer, approach the insurer directly.
    • Upon successful termination, any unused premium paid by you or an immediate family member on your behalf, in the current policy year, will be reversed to the respective Medisave Account.
    • Furthermore, if you have cancelled a plan within the free-look period, you’ll be eligible for a full refund.
    • Even after you have cancelled your plan, you’ll continue to be protected by the MediShield Life plan.

    An Integrated Shield Plan Seems to Offer Higher Value. But Will It Prove to Be Useful for You?

    No doubt, an IP offers higher coverage than the basic MediShield Life plan. It opens up opportunities for quality healthcare in ways that the basic plan can’t. But, there’s a “rider”.

    Since the extended policy offers a higher coverage, the premiums are usually higher than the basic plan. Also, the premiums are likely to increase with your age and possible health deterioration.

    Don’t forget to factor in the cost of deductibles and copayments too. If these two components are low, your premium is most likely going to be high and vice-versa. Also, your Medisave savings won’t cover the rider premiums, which generally save you from paying for the coinsurance and deductible components of your claim amount.

    Opt for the higher plan only if you truly envisage a constant need and feel confident of being able to pay for the higher premiums without having to sacrifice your basic needs.

    Also, you’re anyways enjoying the following benefits with MediShield Life:

    • Subsidised premiums, if you belong to lower- or middle-income household.
    • Pioneer Generation subsidies, if you’re a designated Pioneer.
    • Additional support from the government if you’re unable to pay the MediShield Life premiums, even at the subsidised rate.
    • Subsidies to ensure a smooth shift to MediShield Life.

    The best part? You’ll never lose your MediShield Life cover even if you fail to pay your premiums on time. Again, let’s warn you that the choice may not be that simple. The thing is that even though MediShield Life promises to cover you against your pre-existing medical conditions for life, you may have to cough up an additional 30% premium for 10 policy years, depending on the severity of your condition. Instead, if you choose the right additional private insurance cover, you may be able to avoid this cost.

    By now, you may have realised the dilemma that many face while choosing one over the other. Therefore, we advise caution and a lot of introspection.

    It’s a no-brainer that all good things usually come at a premium. All you need to analyse is whether paying a higher premium and accessing the additional benefits, would serve your long-term interests or not. If the answer is yes, then go for it. If you spend ‘x’ today on the right product, you’ll get back ‘yx’ (y>1) in the future, when you really need it.

    After all, health is wealth and a step closer to eternal bliss! Choosing the right product means a step in the right direction.

    Frequently Asked Questions

      Q. Can my claim request be rejected? Why?

      A. Yes, your claim may be found to be invalid and the insurer may refuse to pay for your treatment. Here are the common reasons:

      • Your medical condition isn’t covered under the policy.
      • The amount you have claimed is below the deductible charged for the policy.
      • Your case falls under the general exclusion category, which almost all IPs have.

      Q. Can my request for a Letter of Guarantee (LOG) be rejected? Why?

      A. Yes, your request for an LOG may be rejected. Here are some pertinent reasons:

      • The size of your estimated bill is below the deductible charged.
      • Your case falls under the general exclusions category.
      • You’re being treated for a pre-existing medical condition, which as per the terms of the plan, are excluded from coverage.
      • Your medical condition is excluded from coverage.
      • Most insurers have a minimum LOG eligibility period before which you can’t make an LOG request. If you apply for one before this period, your request may be turned down.

      Q. Can I upgrade to a higher Integrated Shield Plan from my existing plan?

      A. If you wish to upgrade to a higher plan from your current one while continuing with the same insurer, you may do so if your insurer is willing to underwrite your policy for the additional coverage. If you wish to move to another insurer, the insurer must be willing to provide you higher coverage, based on their risk assessment and other considerations.

      Q. Can I downgrade to a lower plan?

      A. Yes, you can at any time. However, talk to a professional adviser to understand the full implications of your decision. Also, highlight your pre-existing conditions and current general health condition to help him evaluate your decision better. Remember that if you downgrade to a standard IP or MediShield Life cover, you may save on premiums but you’ll also lose privileges.

      Q. Do I get subsidies for my IP premium?

      A. Since your plan comprises the MediShield Life component and additional covers, you’ll enjoy subsidies on premiums because the Government of Singapore subsidises the MediShield Life plan.

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