Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Koh Poh Koon has defended the Government’s MediShield Life scheme in yet another Facebook post, weeks after he fielded parliamentary questions on why the authorities intend to impose a hefty premium hike.
The mandatory national health insurance scheme was thrust into the spotlight in September when the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced premiums will rise by a third as part of a revamp to the scheme scheduled for next year. MOH said that premiums need to go up in view of rising healthcare costs and to increase the yearly claim limit from S$100,000 to S$150,000.
MOH’s announcement drew swift backlash from Singaporeans, many of whom pointed out how the premiums collected between 2016 and 2019 were more than double what was paid out in claims through the scheme. MediShield Life paid out S$3.5 billion for 2.3 million claims while collecting S$7.6 billion in premiums, over the past four years.
Singaporeans urged the authorities to better check rising healthcare costs, curb the over-consumption of medical services and review medical malpractice laws instead of hiking premiums and asked why the premiums were increasing so soon since the scheme was only rolled out five years ago.
Dr Koh, who was at the centre of the Government’s efforts to respond to the backlash, fielded questions about the scheme from both sides of the aisle in Parliament and explained why the premium hike is necessary, earlier this month.
He also said that the reason why total premiums collected are higher than current payouts is because MediShield Life premiums are actuarially determined based on both current claims and future commitments, given diseases that will require multi-year care.
On Monday (16 Nov), Dr Koh defended the scheme yet again on social media and positioned it as “virtually free health insurance” for the elderly.
Sharing a video of how he answered Bukit Panjang MP Liang Eng Hwa’s question on how MediShield Life compares to private insurance and healthcare insurance in other countries, Dr Koh asserted:
“MediShield Life is a unique insurance scheme that covers ALL Singaporeans, without ANY disease exclusions, for LIFE and is significantly cheaper. It is virtually free health insurance for our elderly in the Pioneer Generation.”