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Companies offering intergrated Medishield Plan. (Source - jkfund.blogspot.sg)

Why Singaporeans should get an integrated shield plan

By Vinod Nair, MoneySmart.sg

Every Singaporean is covered by MediShield Life and will need to pay annual premiums that are slightly higher that the old MediShield though for the next four years, the Singapore government will be subsidizing the cost of MediShield Life for most of us. The amount of subsidy you get is based on the value of your home and also depends on whether you are a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident.

MediShield Life covers you for hospitalisation and treatment regardless of which ward class you choose. However, the coverage is based on the costs of Class B2/C wards. That means it will not cover most of your costs if you choose to go with a Class B1/A ward in public hospitals, or private hospitals. Integrated Shield Plans provide that additional coverage.

You may already have an Integrated Shield Plan without realising it

According to the Ministry of Health, 60 per cent of Singaporeans are already paying the premiums for an Integrated Shield Plan. This means that you may already be eligible for additional coverage at private hospitals or Class A and Class B1 wards in public hospitals without realizing it. In fact, many Singaporeans are unknowingly paying annual premiums for an Integrated Shield Plan.

You can find out if you are already covered by an Integrated Shield Plan by logging into CPF’s website with your SingPass. Go to “My Messages” and look under the “Insurance” section. That will tell you what plan you’re currently under. Alternatively, visit the MediShield Life website and click “Premium Check” on the main navigation bar. Log in using your Singpass there and it will tell you if you are covered under AIA HealthShield Gold Max, Aviva MyShield, Great Eastern SupremeHealth, NTUC Income IncomeShield or Prudential PruShield,

Coverage under an Integrated Shield Plan, and compared to MediShield Life

A quick recap. MediShield Life covers you up to $700 per day for a normal Class B2 or Class C ward for ward and treatment charges. You will need to pay at least $2,000 for a Class B2 ward as a deductible, as well as up to 10 per cent as co-insurance. This means that if your bill is $5,000, you only need to pay $2,000 as a deductible and $500 (10 per cent) as co-insurance.

MediShield Life can cover up to $2,500 or 50 per cent of your bill. But remember, that you’re only covered up to $700 per day. If you are only warded for two days, coverage is only at $1,400 and not a penny more. Depending on which Integrated Shield Plan you are on, you may be covered for your entire medical bill, whether in a private hospital, Class A or Class B1 ward.

For a Class B1 ward, your deductible is $3,750 and up to 10 per cent in co-insurance. That means that if your bill is $10,000, you only need to pay $3,750 as a deductible and $1,000 (10 per cent) in co-insurance. The Integrated Shield Plan covers $5,250 or 52.5 per cent of your bill.

If that still seems expensive, remember that if your bill is $15,000, you will still only need to pay $3,750 as a deductible and $1,500 (10 per cent) in co-insurance. The Integrated Shield Plan covers $9,750 or 65 per cent of your bill. This means that the higher your bill, the more peace of mind you have with an Integrated Shield Plan.

But do I really need an Integrated Shield Plan? Isn’t going to a private hospital or Class A/B1 ward going to be expensive?

Naturally, Class A and Class B1 wards will cost you more than Class B2 or Class C. However, you won’t have to share the room with too many other patients, and you will also be able to choose your own doctor, among other perks. Normally, these benefits would cost you hundreds of dollars more per day. For example, a Class A ward would cost about $450 per day, while a Class B1 ward costs about $250 per day, compared to about $75 per day (after subsidies) for Class B2. An Integrated Shield Plan will cover a majority of your hospitalisation costs.

How much will it cost me to be covered by an Integrated Shield Plan?

As with all insurance plans, the premiums get higher as you grow older. If you’re between 31 to 40 years of age, you need to pay $310 per year for MediShield Life. Depending on which Integrated Shield Plan you are on, the premium you pay for an Integrated Shield Plan that covers you for Class B1 wards, for example, will cost between $360 to $420 per year (if you are between 31 to 40 years old). This already includes the MediShield Life premium. That means you’re only paying $50 to $110 on top of MediShield Life each year for additional coverage in a Class B1 ward.

What about Class A wards or private hospitals?

Assuming you are between 31 to 40 years old, the premiums for Class A ward coverage costs between $394 to $472, depending on the Integrated Shield Plan. That’s only $84 to $162 more than MediShield Life. For private hospitals, premiums can go up to $588. Sure, that’s about $278 more per year, but remember that you are covered for private hospitalisation. You could be saving thousands of dollars should you be hospitalised.

But if the thought of spending up to $278 more in insurance premiums seems like too much right now, remember that you can pay this entire amount via your Medisave account. That means you don’t have to pay a single cent from your pocket, and your cashflow won’t be affected.

So should I get an Integrated Shield Plan or not?

The more important question is how much do you want to pay if you get hospitalised? MediShield Life only covers you up to $700 per day. An Integrated Shield Plan usually covers you “as charged”. This means they’ll pay for the entire bill, less the deductible, the co-insurance and any other terms. And if you already are paying for an Integrated Shield Plan, then take advantage of it to upgrade to a higher Class ward so that you can enjoy the benefits of the ward without too much worry about how much you’ll need to pay when you get discharged. So give your financial advisor a call today. They’ll be glad to hear from you.

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