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What is MediShield Life?

MediShield Life is a basic health insurance scheme that protects all Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs). The all-inclusive compulsory insurance by the Government is designed to provide coverage for Class B2 or C wards in public hospitals. MediShield Life provides lifetime coverage for all – from birth till death – and even covers those with pre-existing health conditions. There is no need to apply for MediShield Life.

MediShield Life took effect from 1 November 2015 and replaced MediShield, the previous Government basic health insurance plan. There are some notable differences between MediShield and MediShield Life.

MediShield MediShield Life
  • Option to opt-out of the scheme
  • Coverage up to age 92
  • Pre-existing conditions not covered
  • Maximum claim limit of $70,000 per policy year
  • Maximum lifetime claim limit of $300,000
  • Compulsory for all
  • Lifetime coverage
  • Pre-existing conditions covered
  • Maximum claim limit of $100,000 per policy year
  • No lifetime claim limit

Clearly, MediShield Life has improved benefits that will ensure Singapore Citizens and PRs pay less for their hospital bills. However with better benefits, premiums are also higher. MediShield Life premiums can be fully paid using your Medisave, one of the accounts in your Central Provident Fund (CPF) which is meant to pay for hospitalisation bills.

The good news is, the Government will be providing subsidies to help offset the premium increase.
Previously under MediShield, a person who falls under the 31 – 40 year old age group paid $105 annually in premiums. Under MediShield Life, the premiums are $310 before subsidies. With subsidies, an individual aged 31 – 40 years old may pay between $118 and $126 in the first year. (Source: Table 4)

Those with “serious pre-existing conditions” will only need to pay 30% Additional premiums for 10 years to reflect their higher risk.  Examples of such conditions include cancer, heart disease and schizophrenia.

You can calculate your estimated MediShield Life premiums payable using the premium calculator on the Ministry of Health website. The amount depends on your age, monthly household income per person, and the annual value of your residence.

Is MediShield Life enough?

Now that MediShield Life provides enhanced healthcare coverage for Singapore Citizens and PRs, is there still a need to purchase a private Integrated Shield Plan (IP)?

MediShield Life is meant as a form of basic coverage in the event of a hospitalisation. While MediShield Life means you pay less for your hospital bill, the fact remains that an out-of-pocket cash component still exists.

In considering whether or not to get a private IP, first ask yourself what type of ward you would want to stay in should you be admitted to a hospital.MediShield Life can be used both in public and private hospitals. However as the coverage is designed for Class B2 or C wards in public hospitals, the higher cost of hospitalisation in Class B1 ward and above would have to be borne by you. It is worth noting that you can choose your preferred doctor only if you are in a private hospital or ward class A and B1 in a public hospital.

Ward Classes Room Features
Private hospital One, two or four beds; Air-conditioning; TV
Public hospital A Single bed; Air-conditioning; TV
B1 Four beds; Air-conditioning; TV
B2 Six beds; No air-conditioning; No TV
C Eight beds; No air-conditioning; No TV

Second, will you be able to afford the premiums for a private IP? On top of paying the premiums for MediShield Life, you will have to pay premiums for the additional private insurance coverage. Premiums will also increase as you get older. If you are close to retiring, will you still be able to pay for the premiums when you stop work?

If you want more than basic hospitalisation coverage but feel that the private IP is beyond your budget, you may want to consider Standard IP. Recently announced by the Government, the Standard IP is a private IP plan which gives you the option of enhanced hospitalisation coverage beyond MediShield Life, specifically for Class B1 ward in public hospitals. This will allow you to choose your own doctor and be hospitalised in an air-conditioned ward.

Singapore’s healthcare landscape is evolving. All Singapore Citizens and PRs now enjoy improved basic hospitalisation coverage in the form of MediShield Life. Those who want to supplement their basic health policy can also choose from IPs (including the new Standard IP). With the introduction of these new schemes, it is a good time to evaluate your existing health policies and to ask yourself how you want to manage your plans now and in the near- to long-term.