The Health Ministry goes on the offensive
The national healthcare insurance scheme, Medishield, is undergoing a major revamp. The announcement about the end-2015 transition to Medishield Life was first made by PM Lee in his 2013 National Day Rally.
Medishield Life promises to be more comprehensive than its predecessor, with “better protection against large hospital bills and expensive chronic treatments.” However, the downside is that premiums will increase, although our gracious government will bear a large part of the costs.
Changi Prison beckons
If you’re a stubborn Singaporean who does not believe in the idea of “pooled healthcare costs”, and try to evade paying the premiums instead, the government will not let you off so easily. For example, if you accidentally “forget” to pay your premiums, and you want to holiday in Malaysia to take advantage of the low ringgit…
…you might end up in jail.
Yup, you got that right. The most recently tabled Medishield Life Scheme bill in Parliament levies “a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to a year, or both” if you try to leave the country.
If you really need that A&W float though, our government is kind enough not to ruin your holiday plans. Simply pay the premium you owe to the immigration officer or the police and you will be free to go.
You might need to pay a 17% late fee surcharge.
Other ways the government will make you pay
Even if you live overseas, Singapore will still make you pay the Medishield Life premiums. Why?
This is in case you fall sick and need to return to Singapore for treatment. Our government does not tolerate free loaders.
2. “I don’t want leh.”
Well, your insurance administrator now has government-backed power to divert your wages or the money in your bank account to pay the premiums. We really don’t see any way of escaping this unless you convert all your money into Bitcoins. Or put your entire life savings under your mattress.
Also, you may receive warning letters. Or get sued.
Are you kanchiong yet?
If you are worrying about the premiums, fret not. The government has a $4 billion kitty to subsidise these increased premiums; more so for lower income earners. If your per capita household income is $2600 and below AND you live in a flat with an annual value of $21,000 or less, then you are eligible for “premium subsidies”.
You can also calculate how much your expected premiums are using this calculator.
Come come come, give me all your information
The government will require that you allow them to check your financial and health records without getting your permission. If you find this to be a blatant invasion of your privacy, you can opt out. However, you will not be eligible for income-related subsidies nor given the clean bill of health needed to avoid the extra 30% penalty levied on those with pre-existing diseases.
Which really just loosely translates to allowing the government the access it wants, and will get.