Singaporeans are living longer. While increased longevity is good news, there is a need to continue managing our healthcare needs in our old age. Good health and a long life filled with the freedom, as well as the energy to make it count, are goals everyone strives for.
Your 1st Steps
Be practical when planning for your healthcare needs. Habits such as saving, buying suitable health insurance and leading a healthy lifestyle are key steps towards managing your personal healthcare costs.
In Singapore, basic and affordable healthcare is provided through the government subsidies, Medisave, MediShield Life and Medifund - or simply S+3Ms. In addition to the significant subsidies, Singaporeans can also use their Medisave to pay for the balance of the bill, while MediShield Life helps Singaporeans cope with larger bills. Those who still have difficulties can tap on Medifund.
For more info on the healthcare financing framework in Singapore, click here
The saying "Health is wealth" truly conveys the importance of living a healthy life. By adopting habits that contribute towards a healthy lifestyle, you can minimise medical costs in the present and in time to come.
Healthy living goes beyond good physical wellness and includes mental wellbeing and good nutrition. Learn some healthy living tips from these articles:
Leading an active lifestyle contributes to the overall physical and mental wellbeing. Start with these simple tips
The savings in your Central Provident Fund (CPF) Medisave Account can be used for your basic healthcare needs. It can also be used to cover the medical expenses of your immediate family members; your spouse, children and parents.
Your Medisave savings can be used to pay for day surgery, hospitalisation and selected outpatient treatments.
As Medisave is meant to cater for your lifetime healthcare needs, there are withdrawal limits in place to ensure you have sufficient funds to meet your medical needs during retirement.
For more info on Medisave, click here. MediShield LifeMediShield Life
has replaced MediShield from 1 November 2015, to provide better protection and lifetime coverage for all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, regardless of pre-existing conditions or other reasons that they may not be covered under MediShield or their private health insurance in the past.
MediShield Life works best for hospitalisations in subsidised Class B2 or C wards at restructured hospitals. For enhanced coverage, you can buy an Integrated Shield Plan from private insurers for coverage in Class A or B1 wards at restructured hospitals or private hospitals.
You can use your Medisave to pay for MediShield Life premiums fully using Medisave, inclusive of any Additional Premiums and net of any subsidies. For those with Integrated Shield Plans (IPs), there will be the new Additional Withdrawal Limits (AWLs) to enable them to use Medisave, up to a cap, to pay the additional premiums for the private insurance component of IPs. The AWLs apply on top of the amount of Medisave used for MediShield Life premiums.
For more information on AWLs, please visit here
Medifund is an endowment fund set up by the Government to help needy Singaporeans who are unable to pay for their medical expenses. Medifund acts as a safety net for those who cannot afford the subsidised medical expenses, despite Medisave and MediShield Life coverage.
More on Medifund here
.Integrated Shield Plans
MediShield Life helps pay large hospital bills and selected outpatient treatments, but if you require additional benefits, you can choose from Integrated Shield Plans that are offered by private insurers.
These Integrated Shield Plans are combined with basic MediShield Life and provide you with additional coverage when you opt for Class A and B1 wards in public hospitals or private hospital wards. As a policyholder, you will receive the coverage of the basic MediShield Life tier, while enjoying enhanced benefits provided by your private insurer.
Medisave savings can also be used to pay for Integrated Shield Plan premiums.
Find out more details on Integrated Shield Plans here.
You can also use cash to purchase other plans (or known as riders) from private insurers to cover the payments for the deductible and co-insurance, which are not covered by MediShield Life or the Integrated Shield Plans.
Being hospitalised can be stressful, regardless of the severity of your illness. If it is a scheduled hospitalisation, knowing what you need to do can help reduce any anxiety during the time you are hospitalised. Do bring along your identification documents, a doctor's referral letter (if any), and supporting documents indicating payment from your insurer and/or employer.
As costs can vary from hospital to hospital, choose a ward that you can afford. Fees for medical services such as X-rays and laboratory tests are billed under ward charges for Medisave and MediShield Life claims, while surgical operations are billed separately.
To make a claim from Medisave, you will need to inform the hospital of your intention and to sign the Medical Claims Authorisation Form. Your claims will then be submitted by the hospital after you are discharged. Do note that the use of your Medisave savings is subject to the Medisave Withdrawal limits.
Try this checklist
to see where you stand in terms of preparing for your healthcare needs.
Dependants' Protection Scheme
If you are at least 21 years old and have made your first CPF contribution, you will automatically be covered under the Dependants' Protection Scheme. The Dependants' Protection Scheme is a term insurance that provides coverage of up to $46,000 up to when you are 60 years old. The Dependants' Protection Scheme benefit will be paid out to you and/your family members should you become permanently unfit for work or pass away. You can use the monies from your Ordinary Account and/or Special Account or cash to pay for the annual premiums. Currently, the Dependants' Protection Scheme is administered by two insurers, Great Eastern Life
and NTUC Income
For more information, click here
As you get older, you may face health issues that may affect your mobility or your ability to provide for your family. ElderShield, which is a severe disability insurance scheme, gives monthly payouts to insured individuals who become severely disabled for reasons such as old age or illness and require long-term care. You will be automatically covered under ElderShield when you turn 40, unless you opt out. You can make payments for your annual ElderShield premiums using cash or the savings from your Medisave Account.
For more information, click here
.Withdrawal on Medical Grounds Your CPF savings help you with your essential needs at different stages of your life. You will be able to withdraw your CPF savings under medical grounds, if you:
- Are unfit to work permanently; or
- Have only a few months or years to live; or
- Lack capacity to make decisions – as defined by Section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act; or
- Are terminally ill.
Find out more
on the terms and conditions that may apply to the withdrawal: Heart-to-Heart
As Singaporeans live longer, the need to prepare for unexpected healthcare costs becomes even greater. The emotional worry of paying for large medical bills is one that is faced by many low-income workers in Singapore, such as Mdm Kamla, 63-years old.
Mdm Kamla underwent four cycles of chemotherapy in 2011 as part of her treatment for breast cancer. As a contractual cleaner who works six days a week, she did not have much cash to pay for her large medical bills. However, with the coverage from MediShield, she did not have to deplete her Medisave savings or tap into her personal cash savings to pay for her hospitalisation stay.
"I did not have to pay a very large amount of my own pocket to pay for my large medical bills as I could use Medishield. This saved my family and me from worrying about paying for the bills and we could focus on restoring my health." – Mdm Kamla Somu.
It is never too early to start paying attention to your health. Through healthy lifestyle habits, suitable insurance plans and sufficient savings in your Medisave account, you will be better prepared for unexpected healthcare costs.