Singapore—As Parliament debated the proposed MediShield Life premium increases on Monday (Nov 2), Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) called for the full actuarial report of the MediShield Life scheme, claiming that this is vital in correctly computing premiums and benefits.

Senior Minister of State for Health Koh Poh Koon explained why there was a proposed hike in MediShield Life premiums. The MediShield Life Council announced last September its plans to increase its premiums by 35 per cent in a single adjustment.

Other MPs from the WP, the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) as well as the People’s Action Party (PAP), asked Dr Koh questions concerning the proposed increase.

Mr Giam discussed the need for transparency further in a much-shared Facebook post on Tuesday (Nov 3). According to the WP MP in other jurisdictions, such as Taiwan, this is practiced.  “Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Administration is required by law to release an actuarial report every 5 years, and their latest report is available on their website,” he wrote.

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He added that he called for the Government to publish an actuarial report in order for independent actuaries to analyse it.

“This will go a long way in improving transparency and helping Singaporeans understand the calculations behind MediShield Life’s premiums and benefits, instead of being asked to take the Government’s word for it.”

Mr Giam wrote that “In response, Dr Koh said that the Government will consider releasing more actuarial calculations to external consultants and academics for further analysis and to challenge the assumptions.”

In the same session, Leong Mun Wai, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) from the PSP asked the Senior Minister of State for Health whether it is unusual by international standards for a health insurance scheme to increase its premiums by 35 per cent in a single adjustment.

Dr Koh answered by saying it would not be appropriate to compare MediShield Life with other schemes as premiums are priced based on multiple factors are different depending on the country where one lives.

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He said, “It would also not be meaningful to compute how much premiums a Singaporean will need to pay over his lifetime simply by assuming a fixed compounding factor each year.”

Dr Koh further explained that the 35 per cent hike was because over the past four years the number of MediShield claimants increased by about 30 per cent and annual payouts went up by about 40 per cent, noting that the Government considered deferring the MediShield Life review and the premium increases due to the current “difficult economic situation” with Covid-19 and added that Singaporeans will receive a Covid-19 subsidy for the next two years, which will “pay for the bulk of the premium increase in the first year”.-/TISG

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