Asian senior or elderly old lady woman patient with care, help and support on wheelchair in park in holiday, healthy strong medical concept.

Understanding severe disability and why it pays to plan ahead

Since the launch of CareShield Life in 2020, Singaporeans have become more aware about severe disability protection. With the right care and proper financial planning, it's possible to reduce the challenges of living with severe disability.

by Singlife

Living with uncertainty is never easy, but living with a severe disability can be even more challenging.

Severe disability refers to the inability to independently perform at least three of the six activities of daily living (ADL), which are dressing, washing, toileting, walking or moving around, feeding and transferring from a bed to a chair or wheelchair and vice versa.

Severe disability can happen to anyone at any age. While ageing is the biggest risk factor for illnesses that can lead to severe disability, such as dementia, which is a chronic and progressive disease where the individual gradually loses cognitive ability, severe disability can also result from sudden events in life. For instance, a serious accident or a stroke could lead to paralysis. A severe disability could also be due to the worsening of or complications from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, which can lead to amputations, blindness and also be a risk factor for stroke.

It may come as a surprise to some, but diabetes—and correspondingly, its associated debilitating risks—is a national health concern. In a World Diabetes Day 2021 address, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung said, “One in three individuals in Singapore is at risk of developing diabetes in their lifetime. If nothing is done, by 2050, it is estimated that about one million Singaporeans will be living with diabetes. What are the implications for these individuals? A lifetime of daily medication, injection if you are lucky, if not, blindness, amputation, kidney dialysis and premature deaths. It is debilitating and painful for the patient as well as their families.”1

Indeed, when a person is severely disabled due to such serious and ongoing health conditions, the need for long-term care and help with everyday essential tasks for living arises. This can be as stressful for the individual as it is for their loved ones.

What are Activities of Daily Living?

From feeding to going to the washroom, Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) refer to self-care tasks for basic functional living.

If your loved one needs assistance with activities of daily living, Homage offers a wide range of home-based care services that can be helpful. Download the Homage mobile app and schedule a free consultation with the Homage Care Advisory Team today!

What is long-term care and how much would it cost?

Asian senior or elderly old lady woman patient with care, help and support on wheelchair in park in holiday, healthy strong medical concept.

Source: BigStock

Long-term care refers to providing care for someone who needs both medical care and personal care due to a severe disability. It’s often hard to predict what type of long-term care a person might need and for how long.

 Additionally, most people underestimate the cost of long-term care. Among other things, you may need to pay for:

According to a Long-term Care Study2 done in 2018, you may need an average of S$2,324 per month for long-term care. With medical inflation over the years, this amount might be much higher today, and be a significant financial burden on families.

How do you plan for long-term care? And how does CareShield Life fit in?

 Having long-term care insurance will reduce the risk of depleting your savings and make it easier for you to access the type of care you need.

 To help you prepare better for your future long-term care needs, the government launched CareShield Lifea national severe disability insurance scheme—on 1 October 2020. All Singapore citizens and permanent residents born in or after 1980, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions and disability, were automatically enrolled into CareShield Life on 1 October 2020 or will be enrolled upon turning 30 years of age, whichever is later. For those born in 1979 or earlier and are not auto-enrolled, there are participation incentives of up to S$4,000 to help offset premiums for 10 years if you enrol for CareShield Life by 31 December 2023.   

Similar to the older ElderShield scheme, this government scheme offers a monthly payout when an individual is diagnosed with a severe disability to help finance the cost of long-term care.

A severe disability assessment is needed to file a CareShield Life claim. Only severe disability assessors accredited by MOH can conduct the disability assessment.

 While ElderShield payouts are capped at S$400 per month and for a maximum of six years, CareShield Life offers higher payouts that also continue over a lifetime as long as the claimant remains severely disabled. Taking inflation into account, CareShield Life payouts start at S$600 per month in 2020 and will increase until you turn age 67, or until you make a claim, whichever is earlier. Consequently, the premium amount, which is fully payable using MediSave funds, will also increase over time. Once a claim is made, all future premiums will be waived. 

An option to enhance your CareShield Life coverage for greater financial peace of mind

Given that the average cost of long-term care is more than S$2,324 per month2, enhancing your CareShield Life coverage will allow you to access the appropriate long-term care you need. With a supplementary plan for your CareShield Life coverage, you can receive payouts of up to S$5,000 per month plus additional benefits that will help you cover some out-of-pocket expenses. This is on top of the basic severe disability payouts from your government scheme coverage.

Using Singlife’s supplement for CareShield Life—Singlife CareShield Standardas an example, here’s how much level payout (i.e. the same amount every month; this is opposed to escalating payout which increases annually to better manage inflation) you may receive on a monthly basis and how much you can expect to be deducted from your MediSave account for your supplement annual premium if you wish to use MediSave for the full premium:

Premium TermTill age 99Till age 99
Benefit amountS$1,500 per monthS$1,800 per month
Annual premiumS$584.50 after 20% discount*

(Premiums fully payable by MediSave)

*T&Cs apply

S$572.31 after 20% discount*

(Premiums fully payable by MediSave)

*T&Cs apply

Table 1: Singlife CareShield Standard benefit amount and annual premium for females and males aged 31 | Singlife

Aside from the monthly payout, there are other cash benefits to help the patient and their loved ones. This is as a loved one’s severe disability, like long-term conditions such as cancer and dementia, affects not just one individual but a whole family.

Don’t wait till it’s too late 

It’s important to act while you’re young and in good health as the premiums for CareShield Life supplements would vary based on your entry age and pre-existing conditions, which may limit your coverage. Therefore, the longer you wait to enrol into CareShield Life or get a supplement, the more expensive your options become, and the higher your risk of becoming uninsurable (ageing, remember?). If you’re still unsure about long-term care protection, here are the answers to the top 10 questions about CareShield Life.

It’s a common misconception that long-term care is for the elderly. While the risk for severe disability is higher in old age, it can be unpredictable and could happen to anyone at any age. There is always a risk that an unforeseen accident or a chronic health condition could bring about financial stress in a family. Planning ahead will give you and your family peace of mind that you can afford the care you need and your loved ones will not be financially burdened. This will allow you to focus on what matters most. 

This article first appeared on Singlife, a leading homegrown financial services company, offering consumers a better way to financial freedom. Through innovative, technology-enabled solutions and a wide range of products and services, Singlife provides consumers control over their financial wellbeing at every stage of their lives.

  1. Source: Ministry of Health, Speech by Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health at World Diabetes Day 2021, accessed on 27 March 2023.  
  2. Source: Singlife’s Long-term Care Study 2018.

This article is for educational purposes and is not intended to serve as legal, tax, investment or accounting advice and nothing contained here shall constitute a distribution, an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy. Accordingly, no warranty whatsoever is given, and no liability whatsoever will be accepted by Singapore Life Ltd for any loss arising whether directly or indirectly as a result from you acting based on this information.

This policy is underwritten by Singapore Life Ltd. (“Singlife”).

This is published for general information only and does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any specific person. You may get a copy of Product Summary from Singapore Life Ltd. or our participating distributors’ offices. You should read the Product Summary before deciding whether to purchase the product. You may wish to seek advice from a financial adviser representative before making a commitment to purchase the product. If you choose not to seek advice from a financial adviser representative, you should consider whether the product in question is suitable for you.

Buying a health insurance policy that is not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance your future healthcare needs. You will need to have a basic CareShield Life (CSHL) or ElderShield (ESH) policy before purchasing Singlife CareShield Standard or Singlife CareShield Plus (“Supplements”). Supplements purchased by CSHL policyholders are regulated under the CareShield Life and Long-term Care Act. Supplements purchased by ESH policyholders before the transfer of ESH to Government administration are considered ESH Supplements, which are regulated under the Central Provident Fund (Withdrawals for ElderShield Scheme) Regulations. After the transfer, they are considered CSHL Supplements, regulated under the CareShield Life and Long-term Care Act.

This is not an insurance contract. Full details of the standard terms and conditions of this policy can be found in the relevant policy contract.

This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.

Information is accurate as at 9 September 2022.

About the Writer
Singlife is a leading homegrown financial services company, offering consumers a better way to financial freedom. Through innovative, technology-enabled solutions and a wide range of products and services, Singlife provides consumers control over their financial wellbeing at every stage of their lives.
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