Category: Current Affairs
Published on Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
One major criticism about MediShield that still dogs the national insurance scheme since it's inception 24 years ago in 1990, is that MediShield is not a truly inclusive national healthcare scheme. This is because despite the government's claim that MediShield is a national health insurance program, it still excludes providing coverage to certain population segments of Singaporean society.
The most glaring excluded segment of Singaporeans used to be newborns with congenital diseases, but this has been overcome with reforms to MediShield that were instituted on 1 March 2013.
MediShield in it's current form provides coverage for 92% of the Singaporean population. It is an admirable figure but this also means that 8% of Singaporeans are currently excluded from MediShield and have no health insurance.
So who makes up the excluded 8% and why were they excluded in the first place?
The excluded 8% is made up of the elderly who were excluded due to the age cut off in MediShield (about the age of 90 years
), Singaporeans with pre-existing conditions or Singaporeans who simply cannot afford to pay their premiums.
8% of Singaporeans currently live with the reality that they have no safety net in the event of catastrophic illness because they are considered uninsurable under the current system thanks to either old age, financial constraints or they struggle with chronic conditions. It is a reality that has had serious implications for Singaporean society as more and more of us worry about our healthcare.
There is a silver lining though. The state has taken steps since last August to rectify this issue. The government has acted to bring the uninsurable 8% into the MediShield system with the introduction and implementation of MediShield Life in 2015. The reformed insurance scheme is currently undergoing public consultation and is shaping up to look quite promising with it's proposed coverage
MediShield thus far has played a crucial role in mitigating the risk of medical bankruptcy from major illnesses and prolonged hospitalizations for Singaporeans. As Singapore moves forward into an era of rapid aging and the associated chronic illnesses that come with aging, MediShield and insurance will likely be counted on to play a larger role in providing financial protection, access to care and protecting health for all Singaporeans.
Singaporean policy makers want Singaporeans to proactively manage their own health. They want us to not just keep healthy lifestyle habits but also hope that we do seek out and use preventative healthcare to keep ourselves in the pink. But what happens when all the measures you have taken to protect yourself are still not enough and you face the very real prospect of financial destruction because of medical bankruptcy? Find about how MediFund, the third and final M of our healthcare system, works to help needy Singaporeans in their time of need in our next installment.
A Special Look At The Singapore Healthcare System