SINGAPORE: Insurers that offer Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) will introduce a new product in May to give Singaporeans an option of additional coverage beyond MediShield Life, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (Mar 15).
The Standard Integrated Shield Plan, a private insurance product, is targeted at Class B1, and will allow a more affordable option for who want to downgrade from Class A and private hospital IPs. MediShield Life provides coverage sufficient for services at Classes B2 and C wards.
During public engagement sessions in 2014, the MediShield Life Review Committee found that Singaporeans wanted affordable IPs, with coverage above the B2 and C class wards but at affordable premiums. There was also concern with rising IP premiums over time and were confused about the difference in benefits for different plans.
Under the Standard IP, patients will stay in a 4-bedded ward with air-conditioning and TVs. Patients will also be able to choose their own doctor and have 20 per cent subsidy.
Other Standard IP features include claim limits sized to fully cover nine out of 10 public hospitals' Class B1 bills, coverage for hospital stays and selected outpatient treatments and co-payment features of claim limits, deductible and co-insurance.
MOH said it will review the Standard IP from time to time to ensure that the benefits remain relevant to policyholders.
PREMIUMS TO VARY FOR STANDARD IP
Although benefits of the Standard IP are identical across all IP insurers, premiums will vary across insurers based on their pricing approach. The insurers are AIA Singapore, Aviva, Great Eastern Life, NTUC Income and Prudential Assurance, said the Life Insurance Association Singapore (LIA).
All insurers have committed to keeping the additional private insurance component of the Standard IP premium fixed for the first two years from launch.
On average, premiums for Standard IP, including the premiums for the MediShield Life component, will be:
- Approximately S$245 a year for policyholders aged 21-25
- Approximately S$377 a year for policyholders aged 36-40
- Approximately S$768 a year for policyholders aged 56-60
A check shows Great Eastern Life offers the cheapest premiums for the Standard IP compared to the other insurers. The Health Ministry said Medisave can be used to fully pay for all insurers' Standard IP premiums up to the next birthday age of 75 years.
Currently there are four non-as-charged B1 plans with different benefits. Non-as-charged plans refer to those with sub-limits included.
Policyholders on these plans will be given the option to switch to Standard IP without additional medical underwriting. The same goes for Singaporeans with Class A or private hospital IPs.
However, policyholders who switch to another insurer will need to undergo underwriting. Insurers are allowed to assess, approve with or without exclusions based on their own risk assessment frameworks.
This also applies to policyholders who only have MediShield Life. Exclusions may be applied to those with pre-existing conditions if they do not have an IP or switch insurers.
For example, if a patient with a pre-existing knee-related condition applies for the Standard IP, insurer will provide coverage, except for knee-related conditions. If he is hospitalised for a knee injury, he will be covered under the benefits he receives from MediShield Life. However, there will be no payout by his additional private insurance coverage of the Standard IP.
The Standard IP premiums will be higher than MediShield Life premiums but more affordable than Class A and private hospital IP premiums.
For example, for those aged 36 to 40 years old, policyholders will pay between S$358 and S$398 for a Standard IP. Compared to S$310 for MediShield Life, without subsidies, and more than S$400 for Class A and private hospital policyholders.
The Health Ministry said Singaporeans should carefully consider their preferences and affordability of premiums over the longer term, as IP premiums may increase significantly with age. They should also bear in mind that existing medical conditions that are covered under their current plan may not be covered if they switch to a new plan.