As some of our ageing parents like to grouse, you can afford to die, but you can’t afford to get sick in Singapore. Health insurance is an important part of making sure that doesn’t happen to us. While some of us are confident that MediShield will be enough to cover our healthcare needs, this might change as we age. Read on to find out what kinds of health insurance you should be considering for your parents as they age.
Getting caught unprepared in a medical emergency is an unenviable situation that none of us would fancy ourselves in. That’s why getting health insurance is such a fundamental pillar of adulting.
To provide a basic safety net for Singaporean Citizens and Permanent Residents, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board administers a basic health insurance plan called MediShield Life. The plan provides protection against large hospital bills for life, regardless of age or health conditions.
It also helps to pay for selected costly outpatient treatments, such as dialysis and chemotherapy for cancer and is structured in a way so that patients pay less MediSave or cash for large hospital bills.
Now, MediShield Life might be enough coverage for most of us in the pink of health, but for seniors and our aging parents, it might be wise to consider getting additional health insurance. Here at Homage, we’ve prepared a guide for you to understand some of the considerations that you should have as you think about whether to get additional health insurance for your ageing parents.
Is MediShield Life enough?
The first question that comes to mind for many of us will of course be, is Medishield Life enough for my ageing parents?
To answer that, let’s take a look at what exactly Medishield Life provides coverage for and its terms and conditions:
Who is eligible?
All Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, including the very old and those who have pre-existing conditions.
What does MediShield Life cover?
MediShield Life primarily subsidises treatment in public hospitals and is specifically pegged at the B2/C Type ward for hospitalisation in public hospitals. MediShield Life payouts will cover a certain portion of your bill in this case. If you, however, choose to stay in A/B1-type ward or in a private hospital, your MediShield Life payout will cover only a small proportion of the bill — the rest will need to be topped up from your MediSave account or in cash.
MediShield Life premiums can be paid directly from your MediSave amount. Although the premium amount starts out small at $145 for those below 20 years old without subsidy, it increases to $2055 for those above 90 years old without subsidy.
To see exactly how much your MediShield premium is, click here.
Rest assured however, that Singapore Government ensures that nobody’s MediShield Life coverage will ever be revoked due to an inability to pay their premiums.
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What can I use health insurance for?
As we have seen, Medishield Life provides a rather basic coverage that mainly provides coverage for hospitalization treatment in public hospitals. Private health insurance offerings therefore generally build upon this foundation and provide extra coverage for other healthcare concerns or needs that you might have. Private health insurance companies in Singapore therefore offer different Integrated Shield Plans, which comprise Medishield Life and additional private insurance coverage that cater to different needs.
Here are some of the extra healthcare coverage benefits that private health insurance can provide:
Private health insurance can provide additional coverage for hospitalisation in A/B1-type wards in public hospitals or in private hospitals. So if you prefer having better amenities and a higher level of dedicated care, this might be an important consideration for you to take into account, especially for your loved ones and parents.
Choice of doctor
Private hospitals and private healthcare in general, provides more options and a choice when it comes to choosing your healthcare practitioner. If you’d like to have a say in choosing your doctor, then private health insurance may be a good idea for you.
Is it too late to get health insurance for my aging parents?
The short answer, is of course, a resounding no! Health insurance can be purchased for anyone at any age and stage of life. The most important factor to consider is whether your current health insurance needs are being met.
It’s also a common misconception that health insurance premiums are especially expensive for the elderly.
In actual fact, premiums for health insurance or Integrated Shield Plans increase over time as we age, regardless of when we purchase it. The older you are, the more expensive your insurance premium will be, no matter what plans you choose.
So it’s definitely not too late to get health insurance for your aging parents!
Health insurance for elderly: What is important?
Before you jump into buying health insurance for your aging parents, here are some important points that you should consider before committing to a policy:
Pre-existing medical conditions
It’s important to note whether your parents have any pre-existing medical conditions. It’s common for insurance companies to reject applicants who don’t have a perfect medical history. Certain illnesses or medical conditions such as cancer or other chronic diseases, may even warrant outright rejection. That’s not to say that you definitely won’t be able to find suitable insurance plans. It may, however, cost much more in terms of premiums which is to be expected.
So if your aging parents have no significant pre-existing medical conditions, it’s not too late for sure to apply for health insurance for them and there’s no harm in trying in the first place.
Do rest assured that Medishield Life will still apply to all Singapore citizens and permanent residents even if they have serious pre-existing medical conditions, though they may be expected to pay additional premiums.
Maximum entry age for insurance policy
Most insurance policies also have a maximum entry age that you should pay attention to. This refers to the latest age by which you are able to apply for a health insurance policy.
Generally, most insurance policies in Singapore set it at 75 years of age. This means that you have to apply for the policy before your parents turn 75. Do note as well that it doesn’t mean that the policy will expire when your parents turn 75 as some of them do provide coverage for life. It simply means that you can no longer apply for them after you turn 75.
So if your parents haven’t turned 75 yet, you should be able to find plenty of health insurance options for them. Even if they’ve turned 75, you can speak to insurance company representatives to find out about health insurance plans with higher maximum entry age for your parents.
Cost and coverage
The various insurance companies in Singapore provide different health insurance plans or Integrated Shield Plans that provide differentiated coverage for the different public hospital wards or private hospital wards.
Generally, a preference for premium ward types or private hospitals will incur more costly premiums. You should therefore think carefully about the coverage and costs of health insurance and figure out what’s the most you’re willing to pay and what’s the minimum coverage that you’re willing to accept.
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Insurance plans will also contain exclusion clauses. These describe cases and specific conditions under which the insurer will not provide coverage for and are excluded from being insured to minimise losses to the insurance company. It is important to pay attention to these exclusions and make sure that you understand them before signing onto the policy. The policy document should list them out clearly and specifically. Do ask for clarification if you’re unsure about any form of exclusions. Take note as well that the waiting period for the policy to take effect can also be considered a form of exclusion as well.
Before signing onto any health insurance policy for your parents, it’s important to also include them in the decision-making process. Mortality, health and death can be daunting topics for the elderly to confront by themselves. Start a conversation with them and figure out how they feel about health insurance and what sort of worries and fears they have about their own health. Maintaining an open channel of communication like this is helpful in making sure that the health insurance policy that is taken up for them does indeed serve their healthcare needs and concerns.
Do your research
Before committing to any health insurance policy for your parents, always be sure to conduct due diligence. Check out the different health insurance plans available and think carefully about what sort of conditions and treatments that you would like your parents to be insured for. Always weigh your priorities and considerations with care before signing anything!
Health insurance comparison
As you compare the various available health insurance plans, be sure that you’re comparing them along the same guidelines. For example, if your parents are healthy, without pre-existing conditions, don’t smoke and are 60 years old, you should compare each health insurance policy with these same set of conditions as you make your choice for them.
To further help you along getting health insurance for your aging parents, here’s a brief example comparison of existing health insurance plans or Integrated Shield Plans from major insurance companies in Singapore:
Standard integrated shield plans for public hospital class B1 coverage
Standard Integrated Shield Plans, which are targeted for public hospital class B1 coverage, have identical benefits across all insurers.
|Standard Integrated Shield Plan
|In-patient Day Surgery:
|- Normal Ward
|- Intensive Care Unit Ward
|- Community Hospital
|500/day (up to 35 days per policy year)
|590 - 16,720
|Surgical Implants and Approved Medical Consumables
(i) External or Superficial
|(i) External or Superficial: 550/session (ii) Brachytherapy: 1,100/session
|Immunosuppressants for organ transplants
|Other Policy Features
|Proration factors (for Singapore Citizens)
|Class A- 80% Private Hospital- 50% Private Hospital Day Surgery- 65% Outpatient treatment in Private Outpatient Clinics- 65%
|Policy Year Limit
|Final Expense Benefit
|Last Entry Age
|Maximum Coverage Age
Premiums by age for standard integrated shield plans
|Premiums for those above 60
|Income IncomeShield Standard Plan
|From 1,216 / year
|AIA HealthShield Gold Max Standard Plan
|From 1,300/ year
GREAT Supreme Health STANDARD
|From 1,227/ year
|Prudential PruShield Standard Plan
|From 1,270/ year
|Aviva MyShield Standard Plan
|From 1,301/ year
|AXA Shield Standard Plan
|From 1,299/ year
|Raffles Health Insurance Raffles Shield Standard PlanH
|From 1,295/ year
Apart from the Standard Integrated Shield Plan, there are also Integrated Shield Plans targeted at:
- Class B1
- Class A
- Private Hospitals
You can visit the MOH website to find out more about them.
We hope that you find the right health insurance policy for your loved ones. Not sure what health insurance to get for your loved one? Speak to financial advisors from different insurance companies to get a better understanding of their policies and costs.
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- MOH | MediShield Life. (2021). Retrieved 28 October 2021, from https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/healthcare-schemes-subsidies/medishield-life
- MOH | Comparison of Integrated Shield Plans. (2021). Retrieved 28 October 2021, from https://www.moh.gov.sg/cost-financing/healthcare-schemes-subsidies/medishield-life/comparison-of-integrated-shield-plans