We Explain What 5% Co-Payment Changes On Full Riders Means For Your Health Insurance
MediShield is not exactly the easiest thing to understand.
Learning how health insurance works in Singapore is no walk in the park either.
I mean, most of us cross the bridge when we actually get to it right?
But it’s not too late to learn how to adult when it comes to health insurance, if you follow these few simple steps.
- Understand how Medisave works
- Understand what MediShield Life is
- Understand what Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) are
- Browse through kinds of IP full riders available from insurers
- Purchase the full rider that suits you best
Problem solved, you’re basically 100% covered when it comes to health insurance.
Oh wait, scratch that.
With the Ministry of Health’s mandatory changes to MediShield-linked full riders announced on Wednesday (Mar 7), new buyers will no longer be able to purchase plans which promise to cover 100% of your medical bills.
Crap, no more 100% coverage?! What do I do?
New plans available will involve co-payment schemes of 5%.
This means for a $100 medical bill from your doctor, you’ll have to pay $5, while your insurer covers you $95 under your plan.
This is intended to discourage people from abusing the system, and overclaiming amounts or piling on unnecessary treatments because it’s perceived as “free”.
Don’t worry, MustShareNews still has you covered.
But first, to beat the system, you have to understand how it works.
How does health insurance work in Singapore?
How every Singaporean pays for compulsory national health insurance can be explained in 3 simple letters — C, P, and F.
CPF stands for the Central Provident Fund which is made up of a portion of your monthly wages.
You’ll contribute 20% and your employer will contribute 17% of your salary every month.
Think of it as saving a slice of your money pie, for later.
These slices will go into covering your medical bills, if you do succumb to any illnesses in the future.
If you’re aged 55 and below, 37% of your salary is saved as part of three accounts, an Ordinary Account (23%), a Special Account (6%) and a Medisave Account (8%).
Based on the current rate, if you’re 35 and below, you’ll be contributing 8% of your monthly wage to your Medisave Account from your CPF contributions.
21.6% of your CPF goes to a basic Medisave plan
Now for some quick math.
Let’s assume you’re now 22 years old, sliding into your first full-time job. You also hopefully draw an average monthly salary of $3000.
20% of $3000 will go to your CPF savings from you = $600
17% of $3000 will be given by your employer to your CPF account = $510
This means you’ll have $600 + $510 = $1,110 every month in CPF savings.
8% of your total wage will be sent straight to your Medisave Account = $240
This means the amount contributed to Medisave as a percentage of your total CPF savings, comes up to about 21.6% of your monthly CPF contribution.
At $240, you’ll be entitled to these benefits under the basic Medisave plan.
If you notice, the amount you can withdraw from your Medisave account is pretty limited. Given that this plan is really basic.
As of 2015, however, all basic plans have been upgraded to MediShield Life plans as follows.
The classes of wards you may stay at in hospitals are Class B2/C wards, and the payout will make up a small proportion of the bill only.
Usually, a patient is required to pay more of their bill from Medisave or cash under this basic scheme.
Unless, a full-rider is purchased from a private insurance provider.
Full riders are Integrated Shield Plans (IPs)
If you wish to stay in at least Class A/B1 wards in a public hospital or cover the fees under private hospital for future hospitalisations, you can consider buying a “full-rider”.
Full riders are Medisave-approved private Integrated Shield Plans (IPs).
Here’s a table showing the differences between the ward classes in public hospitals and private ones.
|Type of Ward||Room Facilities||Choice of doctor?|
|Private||1/2/4 beds, aircon, TV||Yes|
|Class A||1 bed, aircon, TV||Yes|
|Class B1||4 beds, aircon, TV||Yes|
|Class B2||6 beds, no aircon, no TV||No|
|Class C||8-10 beds, no aircon||No|
In short, IPs give you additional coverage for your basic plan of MediShield Life with more benefits — covering the costs of better wards or more specialised treatments in private hospitals.
Kinds of IP riders available
Evidently, popular choices for IP riders are the “as-charged” plans as they promise to cover your entire medical bill “as-charged” by the doctor.
MOH’s website even has a full table with a side-by-side comparison of all the plans available for public hospitals and private hospitals.
To view the full plans on-site, simply click on the source links.
Public Hospitals (Class B2/C)Source
Standard Plan – Public Hospitals (Class B1)*Source
*This is the plan which has benefits which are standard across all IP insurers, targeted at Class B1 wards in public hospitals.
Public Hospitals (Class B1)Source
Public Hospitals (Class A)Source
Long story short, the kind of rider you choose to purchase is dependent on what kind of coverage you are looking for.
Do take note that there will probably be no more “as-charged” plans, as MOH’s co-payment scheme of 5% is effective immediately.
Let’s talk money
Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for — let’s talk money.
Premiums – the monthly damage to your wallets – are usually based on the age at which you enter the policy.
Generally speaking, the older you are when you start, the higher starting premium you’ll be paying.
Do approach an insurance agent you trust once you’ve done your research and are sure as to which plan you want to get, before you get a quote from them.
You don’t have to feel pressured to agree to buy a policy even after you’ve met your agent.
A useful tip is to approach at least 3 agents from different companies to get a relevant quote, BEFORE purchasing the plan.
What changes with 5% co-payment?
As can be observed from MOH’s comparison of plans, policies with the words “as-charged” mean that 100% of your medical bills are covered under those areas.
Due to widespread abuse of the current full rider system, six insurance companies offering such IPs lamented to MOH that they were suffering major losses in 2017.
Premiums for 100% coverage full riders for patients also went up significantly last year.
So it kinda comes as no surprise that MOH eventually caved and announced their 5% co-payment changes.
The result? We all have to say goodbye to 100% covered medical bills forever, once April 2021 rolls around.
How many people is this new change going to affect?
Technically, about 29% of the population has already signed up for full coverage.
MOH says that the new change will not affect existing owners of such plans.
However, this is dependent on individual insurance providers to determine.
These insurers reserve the rights to change the T&Cs of your policies after all, even if you’ve been loyally paying your premiums.
If the terms of your ‘as-charged’ policies do change, however, your insurance company has to notify you by April 2021.
After which, you’ll also have to pay the 5% co-payment, up to a maximum of $3,000 per year.
You got health insurance: You can still be fully covered till April 2021. After which you’ll be given a choice to downgrade to a policy with 5% co-payment.
You got no health insurance: You can buy and enjoy full coverage IPs until April 2021. Then, you’ll be subject to 5% co-payment as well.
Not so good news for patients, but things remain unchanged for hospitals and doctors it seems.
Adulting is hard, but planning ahead is not
To make the most out of your youth, it’s best to start planning ahead when it comes to your health coverage.
We hope this guide has made it a little easier for you to get a handle on your health insurance — the rest of your life included.
Featured image from Ministry of Health.