Updated: 04/15/2014 00:07

NTUC calling on Govt to standardise deductible for elderly

NTUC calling on Govt to standardise deductible for elderly

The National Trades Union Congress or NTUC has asked the MediShield Life Review Committee to review current deductibles, refine co-insurance policies and include chronic outpatient treatment in Medishield to contain out-of-pocket expenses. 

It submitted its recommendations to the Committee following eight focus group discussions with over 300 participants.

Under the current MediShield scheme, patients aged 81 to 92 pay a $2,000 deductible for a C Class ward, and $3,000 for a B2 ward or day surgery. 

This is up to $1,500 more than that for those aged 80 and below. 

The deductible is a fixed amount payable each policy year before one gets the MediShield payout. 

NTUC's Assistant Secretary-General Cham Hui Fong says to ensure elderly have a peace of mind, the Government should standardise the deductibles for ALL age groups under MediShield Life. 

"Yes, we do understand that for people who are 80 and above, the incidence of them going to the hospital could be higher. But, we are also mindful that they are not likely to have more savings compared to the younger cohort." 

The NTUC also wants the portion of co-insurance borne by patients for claims above S$10,000 be reduced to 3 per cent. 

This is lower than the 5 to 10 per cent for inpatient bills, and 10 per cent for outpatient bills which the MediShield Life Review Committee had recommended last month. 

Here's Ms Cham again. 

"We understand that Medishield is for catastrophic illnesses, it's for big bills. Our initial was that, are we able to say, cap at X dollars, but we know that it may not be logical, because it depends on the kind of treatment this person still has to undergo. So, for this to be really an insurance that takes care of big bills, why not we do further tierings, so that it can reduce the financial strains on individuals." 

To attract more companies to adopt a potable medical insurance scheme, NTUC says the current 2 per cent tax rebate given to those which do so, should be doubled.

Under this scheme, companies give employees 1 per cent more for their Medisave accounts to buy their own insurance. 

This allows them to stay covered even when they change jobs or retire. 

The MediShield Life Review Committee says NTUC's focus on ensuring better peace-of-mind for the large bills is "aligned with the key directions for MediShield Life". 

And it will consider the labour movement's views when it seeks to balance the overall impact on premiums and affordability for all Singaporeans. 

By Lee Gim Siong

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