This article first appeared on DollarsAndSense.sg
When it comes to health insurance, one of the most important health insurance policies that all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) should consider getting is a private integrated shield plan.
A private integrated shield plan (IP) helps policyholders cover any potential cost that may be incurred if they are hospitalised, either in public or private hospitals.
A private integrated shield plan comprises of two components. The first is MediShield Life. All Singaporeans and PRs are automatically covered under MediShield Life, Singapore’s basic health insurance plan. Coverage is provided regardless of age or pre-existing conditions.
The main limitation with MediShield Life is that coverage provided will be pegged to the expected treatment cost in Class B2 or C wards in public hospital. What this means is that if a patient chooses to be admitted to a higher-class ward in a public hospital, or in a private hospital, the pay-out provided by MediShield Life is likely to only be a fraction of the total bill.
To ensure coverage is provided for higher-class public hospital wards or at private hospitals, Singapore residents can choose to upgrade their existing MediShield Life to an Integrated Shield Plan.
Different Types Of Integrated Shield Plan
Coverage for integrated shield plans can be grouped into three different types.
Standard Integrated Shield Plan (Standard IP)
Standard IP provides coverage for policyholders for Class B1 wards at public hospitals. Benefits provided by the Standard IP are identical across all IP insurers.
Class A Plans
Class A plans provide coverage for policyholders for Class A wards at public hospitals. Benefits provided by the plan may differ from insurers.
Private Hospital Plans
Private hospital plans provide coverage for policyholders at private hospitals. Similar to Class A plans, benefits provided may differ from insurers.
Coverage Provided By Integrated Shield Plan
As mentioned above, benefits provided by Standard IP plans are identical across all insurers while benefits provided for private hospitals and Class A plans may differ among insurers.
In general, here are the different types of coverage one can expect.
Inpatient & Day Surgery: This includes daily ward, treatment cost and surgery
Outpatient Treatment: This includes treatment for kidney dialysis, cancer treatment and chemotherapy
Pre & Post Hospital Treatment: This covers the cost of any related treatments that are incurred before or after the hospitalisation stay.
* To find out more about the benefits provided by the Standard IP, please refer to MOH comparison here.
** To find out more about the benefits provided for Class A wards, please refer to MOH comparison here.
*** To find out more about the benefits provided for Private Hospital plans, please refer to MOH comparison here.
Who Are The Different Insurers?
As the name suggests, private integrated shield plans are offered by private insurers. Today, there are a total of six insurers that offer these private insurance plans. They are:
Aviva: Aviva MyShield
AXA: AXA Shield
Great Eastern: Supreme Health
Except for Standard IPs, exact benefits and premiums across the various private insurers differ slightly.
Besides choosing the plan which provides you with the most extensive coverage, policyholders should also be mindful about the premiums that they will be paying. This applies not just to what they are paying today, but also its affordability over the long-term.
Paying For Your Integrated Shield Plans Premiums
Similar to MediShield Life, annual premiums for your private integrated shield plans can be paid for using your Medisave.
However, unlike MediShield Life premiums, which can be paid fully using your Medisave, there is a cap to how much Singapore residents can use from their Medisave account to pay for the premium for their private integrated shield plan.
The amount they are able to use from their Medisave to pay for their private integrated shield plan, also known as the Additional Withdrawal Limits, are as follows.
However, do take note of the withdrawals limits.
For example, if the premium for the private integrated shield plan is $375 and the individual is 35 years old, he will be able to use $300 from his Medisave to pay for his premiums and will need a cash outlay of just $75.
As a person grows older, annual premiums for private integrated shield plans will naturally increase. This increase reflects the situation that older people are more likely to require hospitalisation and treatment as compared to younger folks.
Buying A Rider
Similar to MediShield Life, coverage provided at higher-class wards does not mean hospitalisation bills are fully paid for. All integrated shield plans still include deductibles and co-insurance.
In the past, if you want complete coverage so that you do not have to pay for any deductibles and co-insurance, you have the option of purchasing a separate rider that can fully cover all hospitalisation bills incurred.
In March 2018, the Ministry of Health announced that all new integrated shield plan riders will have to incorporate a co-payment of at least 5%. However, this applies only to new integrated shield plan riders. Existing integrated shield plan with full riders will not be affected.
Moving forward, riders will have a minimum co-payment of 5% but are likely subjected to an annual cap of $3,000.
For example, if you incur a hospitalisation bill of $15,000, a 5% co-payment will mean having to fork out $750, with the remaining $14,250 being covered by the private integrated shield plan.
To find out more about the changes to shield plan riders, you can read this article about 5 facts about the latest integrated shield plan changes that Singaporeans need to know about.
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