Another disabled person denied ElderShield benefits

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Photo: YouTube screengrab

Another citizen, a man named Mr. Teo, has come forward claiming to have been denied his ElderShield claims in spite of his blindness. He had been certified to have lost sight in the right eye, and in his left eye, he can only see shadows. Unbelievably, Mr. Teo has been deemed not severely disabled enough to qualify for ElderShield benefits.

Recently, the story of a Mr. K made rounds in media. He was an elderly amputee with advanced kidney failure and had been denied assistance from ElderShield until Worker’s Party MP Sylvia Lim interceded on his behalf for his status to be reassessed. He passed away, however, before he could fully use the benefits.

ElderShield is a government program designed specifically to give financial protection for individuals whose health condition necessitates long-term care. Citizens and permanent residents enrolled under MediSave are automatically placed under ElderShield from age 40 onwards, unless they decide to dis-enroll from the program.

People who cannot perform at least three of the following Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) are deemed severely disabled and are given insurance benefits: washing, dressing, feeding, using the toilet, moving around indoors, and moving from a bed to an upright chair on their own.

Doctor’s reports from early 2015 clearly showed that he needed assistance for bathing to help prevent falls, as well as dressing, food preparation, wiping after using the bathroom, and even while he moved around at home.

However, NTUC Income, one of the authorized insurers that offers ElderShield, wrote Mr. Teo in April 2015 that since he could still perform more than three ADLs, he did not yet qualify for ElderShield benefits.

In other words, Mr. Teo was assessed as not severely disabled enough to qualify for the benefits.

The letter from NTUC read, “Based on the assessor’s report, we note that you are able to perform more than three ADLs. Therefore, we regret that you do not qualify for benefits. You may still submit the application for the benefit payout if you satisfy the claim criteria in the future.”

What adds insult to injury is that Mr. Teo’s three other insurance plans allowed him to claim permanent disability benefits, whereas ElderShield did not.

Ironically enough, the ElderShield website reads, “You are covered for life. Once you start paying premiums, you can make a claim at any age, should you suffer from severe disability. Even after your premium term is completed at age 65, you remain insured for life.”

The assessment of his condition despite his present disabilities has left Mr. Teo wondering if the program is a scam.

“I think this ElderShield is a scam. Normal disability only cannot claim – only severe disability – must be more like a vegetable in order to claim. What kind of disability – most people not sure – many think can claim, but 2 legs chopped off also cannot.

From 2002 to 2015, around $2.6 billion was collected from the premiums of ElderShield insurance. Claims gave amounted to $100 million, and $130 in rebates have been issued to policyholders in 2007 and 2012.

The new CareShield Life, which takes effect in 2020, will be completely mandatory, with no option out of it. However no actuarial reports for this program have been made public as yet, something that has raised citizens concerns.

Two weeks ago, on July 4, it was announced that members of CPF (Central Provident Fund) who are 30 years old and above and who are “severely disabled” can withdraw from their own CF Medisave account. Gan Kim Yong, the Health Minister said, “When a Singaporean is facing severe disability and, at the same time, facing financial difficulties, I feel that we can afford to be more flexible.”

People with $5000 in their Medisave account are able to withdraw $50 every month, and those with $20,000 or above can withdraw up to $200.

Ironically enough, Mr. Teo has not been deemed severely disabled, and therefore will not be able to withdraw from his own Medisave account.