Former PAP MP Inderjit Singh made a Facebook post on Thursday (26 Jul) expressing his views on the new Careshield Life scheme which is to replace the current ElderShield. He said he understood why people were angry – even though the policy was sound, the government was seen as being market-driven for a policy that is supposed to be a social good.

For those who are unaware, Ministry of Health announced on 27 May that it has accepted the recommendations of the ElderShield Review Committee (ESRC) on changes to the ElderShield scheme and introduced an enhanced scheme called CareShield Life and that the government plans to implement CareShield Life in 2020 for future cohorts.

“Those aged 30 to 40 in 2020 will be the first cohorts to join the scheme.  Subsequent future cohorts will join the scheme when they reach the age of 30,” said MOH, adding that the Government will provide premium subsidies and financial support to ensure that the scheme is affordable and nobody will lose coverage because of an inability to pay.

Under the new CareShield Life, the severely disabled will receive a higher cash payouts of at least $600 per month for life. But it comes with a price – in the form of higher mandatory premiums, which will be paid from a younger age.

There are “young Singaporeans who believe that they can take care of themselves” and therefore “may not like a compulsory scheme that will cost them high.” While the annual premiums for CareShield currently stands at $200 a year, the payout of $600 a month was deemed as too little while the criteria has been deemed too stringent.

The outspoken critic said that “Singaporeans are [already] finding the cost of living beyond what they can afford comfortably [and] any additional costs [from the CareShield premiums] can be sensitive.”

He felt that the electorate does “not think that the government should be making a profit from any schemes that they provide to Singaporeans. So, they are not happy if they think that this is being run as a 100% market driven thing”.

Furthermore, it is an irony that the premiums were pegged to the market rate while the scheme is compulsory. There “must be some concessions made for a compulsory scheme”. This is possible because the previous ElderShield scheme showed that the government “collected $3b and paid out only a negligible amount in claims”

Additional, the “government source of revenue for Careshield… is not just through the collection of premiums but also through the taxes [and] returns of our sovereign wealth fund. So as a government, some services should be provided at a subsidy because citizens are already contributing to government revenues in many other ways”.

The former MP then proposed a solution on how CareShield Life could be implemented as a fair manner: He proposed that the government “show Singaporeans what the actual cost of coverage is and then [give] subsidy with women getting a higher subsidy.”

He concluded: ” leaders should exercise greater political judgement in policy-making”. While the civil servants have made proposals based on market benchmarks, it is the job of the government to exercise “politician acumen” and fine-tune it.

“The government is not a company and we cannot apply a market driven system [in policies which affect] the lives of citizens the government was elected to serve”.

“I guess this government works on pragmatism more than politics but sometimes when it is the time to convince the public to buy-into a national scheme or idea, some political acumen never hurts”

Given that the former PAP MP has openly criticised PAP policies and spoken up for Singaporeans in Parliament, do you wish that there were more alternative voices to speak up for you?

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