If you’re a Singaporean or Permanent Resident (PR), you’d already be enjoying the benefit of the 3Ms—Medisave, Medishield Life, MediFund—to help fund the cost of medical care. In addition, you may also qualify for government subsidies or have employer-sponsored medical plans to supplement your coverage.
According to Singapore’s Ministry of Health, more than 60% of Singapore citizens and PRs have some form of Integrated Shield Plan to boost their healthcare financing. However, do you know what comprises an Integrated Shield Plan? More importantly, are they sufficient to help you cover the ever-increasing medical costs in Singapore?
What is the difference between Medishield Life and Integrated Shield plans?
What is Medishield Life?
Medishield began in 1990 as a national healthcare insurance scheme for Singaporeans and PRs. In 2015, it was replaced with the Medishield Life scheme—which provides expanded medical coverage to insure everyone, including the old and the sick, as well as provide lower co-payment of bills with unlimited lifetime claims.
Yet, while Medishield Life is a clear improvement over the old scheme, it’s not comprehensive as you can still incur a high amount of out-of-pocket expenses (in co-payment costs). Therefore, Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) were introduced to help reduce this risk.
What are Integrated Shield Plans (IPs)?
Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) are additional medical insurance plans that enhance the existing coverage provided by Medishield Life (MSL). IPs purchased after 2007 automatically integrate with MSL, so there’s no overlap in coverage. Instead, they allow you to enhance the basic coverage that MSL provides and purchase additional riders to cover the co-payment portion of your cover (also referred to as co-insurance and deductibles).
Here’s a quick overview:
What else do I need to know?
Here are the 5 key things to know (or ask an expert) about Integrated Shield Plans:
How does my company insurance fit into the picture?
Shield plans have the Last Payer Status, so if you have any other types of medical insurance (company or personal), the Shield plan will be the last from which you’ll claim.
Do I still need my own IPs when I have company insurance?
Company-sponsored medical insurance typically have lower limits compared to personal Integrated Shield Plans. And when you leave the company, the plan terminates immediately and you’ll be left without coverage. This may not be an issue if you’re covered at your next place of employment (and have no gap between jobs); however, your long-term employment prospects may take a hit if you are chronically sick.
Can I get Integrated Shield Plans if I am a foreigner?
Yes, as long as you have a valid work pass in Singapore. However, unlike for Singaporeans & you’re your IPs will not integrate with CPF Medishield Life so you’ll have to pay upfront and submit your claims manually after.
How do I choose the right Integrated Shield Plan?
Think about whether you wish to have any out-of-pocket expenses when presented with your medical bill, and select the appropriate riders to cover the expenses you don’t wish to pay.
Premiums are age-banded and not guaranteed, so while the plan you have now may be of great value, can you still afford it in 20 to 30 years? What’s more, not all insurers have downgrade options if premiums become too onerous for you, so be sure to select the insurer and plan that gives you the best flexibility throughout your lifetime.
Insurance works on the concept of risk pooling, so the bigger and more diverse the pool, the less likely it is for your premiums to fluctuate greatly from year to year. Consider this when selecting an insurer, and always go for the ones with greater credibility.
What are riders, and why do I need them?
While Medishield Life and Integrated Shield Plans are great by themselves, you will still have to cover the co-payment portion in cash—which can be significant if your total bill is high. Riders help you take on this cost, and depending on your needs, additional riders can also cover you for elective treatment overseas, traditional Chinese medicine, and more.
As with any insurance coverage, MSL, IPs and riders are tied to your individual needs and circumstances. The only way to ensure that you’re getting the coverage you need is to speak with an expert who can advise you accordingly. Start a conversation with one today!