Singapore— On Monday, September 2, the CareShield Life and Long-Term Care Bill was passed, making long-term disability insurance mandatory for those born from 1980 onwards.
This endeavour is meant to further support the country’s healthcare and ageing initiatives.
Four years ago, the Government made MediShield Life mandatory for the provision of universal health coverage. For senior citizens, Pioneer and Merdeka Generation packages provided further support.
If younger residents become severely disabled, CareShield Life, which is to be launched around mid-2020, is meant to provide for their long-term care needs. Citizens born prior to 1980 may also choose to enroll under CareShield Life, and are in fact, offered substantial help in doing so.
Anyone enrolled under CareShield Life who becomes severely disabled would receive a payout of at least S$600 per month for as long as they are disabled, and if need be, for life. This would help defray the costs of their care.
Fees for the premium, as well as the payout itself, will be adjusted as needed over time, to ensure that those who are severely disabled will have sufficient care.
“This provides universal coverage for future generations of Singaporeans, ensuring Careshield Life coverage for them regardless of their health, pre-existing disability, or financial status,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
During the session in Parliament, numerous MPs including Dr Lily Neo of Jalan Besar GRC, asked that the payout be increased.
Mr Gan answered that for individuals who wish to have higher payouts, they can buy supplementary plans for private insurers. The premiums of these can be paid via Medisave, within a limited amount annually.
He added, “These provisions allow us to proactively reach out to disabled individuals to inform them of their eligibility for claims, not just for CareShield Life and ElderShield, but also for other government disability schemes, using disability assessments already performed at healthcare institutions.”
The Health Minister explained that in order to prevent the abuse of the new Bill, there will be safeguards put in place, such as a caregiver being put in charge of those who do not have the mental capacity to manage their payouts.
Healthcare institutions can also be put in charge of payouts, should tab policyholder desire this.
But the primary purpose of the payout is to provide for the care of someone severely disabled policyholder. If this is not accomplished, there are penalties in place as well, since it would be considered as taking advantage of those who are vulnerable.
People found guilty of false declarations could end up in jail for as long as one year, or pay a fine of S$5,000, or both. If convicted, they also have to pay back twice the amount that was paid out to them.
Mr Gan said that the Government will be taking “a strict stance” against individuals who can afford to pay premiums but simply refuse to, including Singaporean citizens who live abroad. -/TISG
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