Sylvia Lim expresses “worrying concerns” about CareShield Life’s rigid eligibility criteria, and how women pay higher premiums than men

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Photo: YouTube screengrab

Yesterday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong started a debate on the new long-term disability insurance, CareShield Life that saw members of the Workers’ Party (WP) Sylvia Lim and Pritam Singh expressing their viewpoints about.

While Mr Gan expressed hopes of CareShield Life being more than an insurance scheme and becoming an integral part of Singapore’s social safety net, the two WP members shared “worrying concerns” about the policy.

WP Chairman Sylvia Lim said that while ElderShield was designed to cover those unable to perform at least three out of the six activities of daily living – washing, dressing, feeding, toileting, walking and transferring – this criteria might be too rigid for CareShield Life to adopt as well.

She asked, “How disabled must a person be to make a claim?”

She also added that if CareShield can provide payouts before one reaches a dire stage of disability, then it is likely that the disabled person can continue to be looked after at home with some part-time help.

Lim also questioned why women would be asked to pay higher premiums as compared to men, despite the Committee insisting that CareShield Life’s features are “universality” and “risk-pooling”.

According to the Committee, women have a longer life expectancy and a higher risk of severe disability, and thus are charged higher premiums.

She argued that many women give up their careers and personal ambitions to do unpaid caregiving for their families, services that the families would otherwise have to pay for. By doing so, many women have lower CPF balances than men.

Sylvia Lim also asked if the Government could clarify if there was any other country that provided compulsory long-term care insurance that discriminated premiums by gender.

During his speech, WP’s Secretary-General and MP Pritam Singh asked for more details about a point that raised questions amongst Singaporeans. He said, that many do not believe the statistic that one in two Singaporeans will become severely disabled in their lifetime and asked for clarification.

To this, Mr Gan said, “Some are surprised by our ‘one-in-two’ statistic, and ask why is it that we do not see half of our elderly in severe disability,” he said. “This is mainly because they do not all become severely disabled at the same time. They occur over a period of time, through their lifespan after 65.”

Netizens were hardly enthusiastic about the new compulsory insurance policies, despite talks of implementation.

Many also expressed growing concerns of how they would pay for the new compulsory CareShield Life policies should their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts have insufficient balances.

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obbana@theindependent.sg