MOH says MediShield Life limit covers a majority of subsidised bills despite only paying S$4.50 for an elderly man’s post-subsidy bill

Recently, the nation was given a shocking news when they found out that Mr Seow Ban Yam, 82, was asked to fork out most of his S$4, 477 post-subsidy bill when MediShield Life only paid S$4.50 of the bill.

However, Ministry of Health (MOH) said that based on the latest figures, eight in 10 subsidised bills were within the Medishield Life claim limits, and nine in 10 were within S$230 of the claim limits.

In a letter sent to The Straits Times Forum Page, the Ministry said that the balance bills tend to be those of a more complex nature or were cases which involved higher income patients who received lower means-tested subsidies.

“Overall, MediShield Life provides Singaporeans with protection against large bills, with affordable premiums. In particular, having a deductible for each year and a co-insurance borne by the patient, ensures that MediShield Life remains sustainable, and premiums kept affordable,” said Ms Lim Siok Peng, Director of MOH’s Corporate Communication Division.

She added, “Even with the co-payment, MediShield Life, in tandem with Medisave, allows for eight in 10 subsidised hospital bills to be paid with S$100 or less in cash, and seven in 10 are fully paid without any additional cash outlay by the patient.”

However, in some rare cases, the patient’s co-payment can be high. In most of these cases, the procedure would have not been a straightforward one, exactly like Mr Seow’s case. The elderly man underwent a rather uncommon and complex procedure (bilateral dacryocystorhinostomy), and was performed by a senior consultant.

“There is an ongoing review of claim limits, and the consequential impact on premiums, to ensure that MediShield Life’s coverage remain broad-based and sustainable. The review will be completed by end of 2020,” Ms Lim revealed.

In the meantime, patients who are facing financial constraints can opt to apply for assistance such as Medifund to make sure healthcare remains affordable.

On top of that, SNEC is also reviewing its charges to ensure they remain affordable, including for operations like the one Mr Seow underwent. SNEC will announce these fee revision from 1 March.

The Ministry says that no Singaporean will be denied essential healthcare treatment due to inability to pay.

“The Government provides significant subsidies of up to 80 per cent to keep healthcare costs low, and all Singaporeans are protected against large healthcare bills through MediShield Life. Patients can pay for the co-payment part of their bills with their Medisave. Medifund and various forms of financial assistance at our public institutions are also available for those in need,” Ms Lim concluded.