Everyone knows what MediShield Life is; a national scheme that helps Singaporeans pay off large hospital bills. It’s the most basic health insurance available to all Singaporeans. Some of us may even have taken up an Integrated Shield Plan or “IP” for short, a health insurance plan from private insurers in Singapore.
What is MediShield Life?
MediShield Life is a national health insurance scheme that covers all Singaporeans. Premiums need to be paid and these are deducted from our CPF Medisave Accounts.
MediShield Life’s payouts are pegged at B2/C-types wards in public hospitals plan and will cover only a portion of our bill. If we choose to stay in A/B1-type ward or in a private hospital, MediShield Life will cover only a small portion of our bill.
While MediShield Life does not have any lifetime claim limit, there is an annual claim limit of $100,000, which increases to $150,000 from March 2021.
When claiming against MediShield Life, we will need to pay (either from our Medisave Accounts or with cash) a fixed amount of the bill before any payout from MediShield Life is made. This fixed amount is known as the ‘Deductible’ and we need to pay this sum only once in any year that we’re hospitalised. The ‘Deductible’ amount depends on our age and our choice of ward class.
The claimable amount is the amount above the ‘Deductible’ up to the annual claim limit. We need to pay a portion of the claimable amount and this portion is known as ‘Co-Insurance’. The ‘Co-Insurance’ rate is reduced as the claimable amount increases.
What are Integrated Shield Plans (IP)?
An IP is a health insurance plan offered by a private insurer. This type of plan provides additional coverage, such as for non-subsidised treatment in public hospitals or for treatments in private hospitals. An IP consists of two components; the MediShield Life component and the private insurance coverage component by the insurer.
When we take up an IP, we’re already covered by MediShield Life. The insurer which issued our IP acts as our single point of contact and also acts on the CPF Board’s behalf for premium collection and claims disbursement for the MediShield Life component of our IP.
Unlike MediShield Life, most IPs do not cover pre-existing conditions. An application for an IP may result in the pre-existing condition being excluded or the application being rejected in its entirety.
Should I get an Integrated Shield Plan?
Although an IP provides more comprehensive coverage than MediShield Life, the premiums are more than those charged for MediShield Life. Like many other types of insurance plans, premiums for IPs increase with age.
When taking up an IP and/or an IP rider, consider if it meets your needs and if you can afford the premiums for the long term. It would be sensible to consult with an insurance or financial adviser on this.
Note about Integrated Shield Plan Riders
Some insurers may offer riders for their IPs. These riders typically offer benefits that reduce the co-payment required of policyowners.
Since April 2019, insurers are obliged to offer only new IP riders that require the policyowners to co-pay at least 5% of the bill, with a minimum cap of $3,000. For such IP riders taken up before April 2019, these will be discontinued from April 2021 and policyowners will need to switch to the new riders.
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