Integrated Shield Plans Will Limit Cancer Coverage To 5X Of MediShield Life’s From 1 Apr

Limit For Integrated Shield Plans Will Be Lower Than Current Cancer Coverage By Insurers

Cancer is said to be the number one cause of death in Singapore, so the soaring costs of treating the disease will concern many.

That’s why the Ministry of Health (MOH) has taken steps to review healthcare financing schemes like MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans (IPs).

One of the changes made is that IPs will limit the coverage for cancer treatments to five times that of MediShield Life.

This will take place from Saturday (1 Apr).

No more unlimited cancer coverage under Integrated Shield Plans after 1 Apr

IPs are private health insurance plans with two components. One is MediShield Life; the other is additional private insurance coverage run by certain insurance companies.

These seven insurers, such as NTUC Income, Prudential and AIA, have been allowed by MOH to sell such plans.

Currently, most insurers pay for policyholders’ cancer treatment “as charged”, according to The Straits Times (ST).

In other words, there’s no limit to their coverage, apart from the usual co-payment and deductibles that patients have to pay.

This will change when policyholders renew their contracts or buy new contracts after 1 Apr.

Patients already receiving cancer treatment will get a six-month extension in their current coverage to finish their treatment.

Source: Stephen Andrews on Unsplash

Integrated Shield Plans setting maximum cancer coverage

The change involves IPs setting a maximum coverage limit for cancer treatment from 1 Apr.

That maximum is about five times the cancer coverage that basic MediShield Life provides.

Insurers have indicated that this limit will apply to all plans, no matter whether they include public-sector B1 or A class wards or private-sector care, according to ST.

This coverage will be lower than the current unlimited coverage provided by insurers.

MOH’s goal is to ensure affordability

The move is part of a broader goal to “ensure the affordability of cancer drug treatments and sustainability of insurance premiums in the long term”, MOH said in a press release on 4 Mar.

How it works is that cancer treatment claims from MediShield Life were split into those for drugs and those for services from 1 Sep 2022.

Cancer drug services include outpatient treatments like:

  • scans
  • blood tests
  • doctor consultations
  • supportive care drugs

Cancer Drug List introduced to make treatments more cost-effective

For drug claims, MOH introduced a Cancer Drug List (CDL) of cancer drugs approved by the ministry.

Source: Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash. Photo for illustration purposes only.

After 1 Sep, only treatments on the CDL were covered under MediShield Life and MediSave. From 1 Apr, IPs will cover only treatments on the CDL.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament on 23 Feb that this is intended to make cancer treatments more cost-effective.

That’s because to qualify for the CDL, medicine suppliers need to ensure their prices justify the effectiveness of the treatment.

Since then, prices of CDL drugs have gone down by 30% on average and by over 60% for some drugs, Mr Ong added.

MediShield Life claim limit for cancer drug services to be tripled

As for cancer drug services, the MediShield Life claim limit was set at S$1,200 per calendar year.

However, from 1 Apr, it will triple — from S$1,200 to S$3,600, also from 1 Apr.

Raising this limit will mean that patients who made cancer drug services claims this year can make additional MediShield Life claims up to the new limit from that date.

This is in response to feedback that the current MediShield Life claim limit for cancer drug services may not be adequate for some patients.

The MediSave claim limit remains the same at S$600 per year.

A delicate balancing act

MOH is adamant that Singapore’s cancer treatment cost must be reined in.

Thus, they pledged to continue to review healthcare financing schemes to ensure the long-term sustainability of healthcare costs.

At the same time, they must be adequate to address Singaporeans’ needs, the ministry said, maintaining that,

Nobody will be denied appropriate healthcare due to an inability to pay.

Hopefully, this delicate balancing act will help sufferers in their time of need.

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