Many of us know we are covered by some health insurance under our CPF scheme, but do we know enough to make use of it?
Do you understand the difference between Medishield, Medisave and Medifund? How can these help Singaporeans with our hospitalisation and medical bills?
MediShield is a basic medical insurance plan that helps cover large hospital bills and selected outpatient treatments. MediShield premiums can be paid using Medisave, and it will be changed to become MediShield Life by end of 2015.
Medisave is a national healthcare savings scheme where a portion of your CPF savings goes into the account to help you build up your savings for healthcare purposes.
You can use your Medisave to pay for your own and your immediate family members' hospitalisation payments. You can also use your Medisave savings to pay the premiums of MediShield and Medisave-approved Integrated Shield Plans.
Coverage includes hospitalisation, day surgery and certain outpatient treatments, including health screening and vaccinations for selected groups.
Medisave can be used at public hospitals, Medisave-accredited private hospitals and outpatient clinics.
Medifund is an endowment fund that works like a financial safety net to help needy Singaporeans who cannot afford hospital expenses despite Medisave and MediShield.
The CPF Board administers the Medisave and MediShield schemes while there are other medisave-approved integrated shield plans that work with private insurers to provide a more comprehensive coverage.
More than 80 percent of Singaporeans use Medisave to pay for their hospitalisation expenses and about 75 percent of Singaporeans are covered under MediShield and other approved insurance plans.
Unlike some other countries where healthcare benefits enjoy a large government subsidy, the Singapore government emphasises on individual responsibility with some government support.
As we all know how huge hospitalisation bills can be in Singapore, how then can we ensure we have a better coverage?
Changes in Medishield starting from December 2007 ensure all new-born Singaporeans are automatically covered by the programme, helping policyholders to pay for large hospitalisation bills at Class B2/C level.
Medishield has deductible and co-insurance features, which means you need to pay an initial amount once in a policy year before you can make a claim.
Having said this, you may notice that medical bills are still not cheap and not comprehensively covered even under the Medishield.
That's where the Medisave-approved Shield plans come in.
These policies ensure that you enjoy the benefits of coverage both from your private insurers as well as MediShield. Annual premiums average about $300 for the age band of 31 to 40.
These Private Integrated Shield Plans are offered by 5 insurers:
- Great Eastern Life
- NTUC Income
- Prudential Assurance
- American International Assurance
Given the fact that Medisave-approved Shield plans are largely popular, you can guess that the basic coverage of Medisave for our healthcare is definitely not enough for most Singaporeans.
Be prudent and do consider buying a private insurance plan to top it up because the last thing you want to worry about when you are sick or hospitalised is borrowing money to pay for the hefty bills!