My letter on an area of Medishield Life, Push for Portable Medical Plans Needs More Support was published in the ST Forum on 13 June 2014.
The same topic was brought up in today’s Straits Times under the opinion page:
To untangle the mess, the government will need to bring in all the stakeholders and come up with a new workable system.
The following text is my original letter, before editing:
The push by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) for portable medical plans is a good one (NTUC to renew push for portable medical plans : Jun 7).
One disadvantage of group insurance is that the coverage will end once a person leaves the company, just when he needs it most.
Another disadvantage is that many people are covered by both their company’s group insurance and their own private integrated shield plan, which leads to unnecessary duplication and premiums wastage.
The civil service’s model of giving its staff extra Medisave contributions so that they can use it to buy their own portable insurance is a good one and could be followed by more companies.
However, this approach is not popular due to two reasons.
Firstly, some companies might want to provide their staff with outpatient benefits, which the portable insurance does not cover. The companies also can’t buy a standalone group plan that covers for outpatient benefits only as insurance companies only sell the outpatient benefit as an add-on to the basic hospitalization benefit.
Secondly, companies are unlikely to overhaul their current group insurance benefits as it involves additional work with little or no incentive. Transiting to a portable plan is also not a straight forward exercise.
The push towards portable medical plan can only succeed if it is supported by government legislation and incentives. Perhaps a sub committee of the MediShield Life Review Committee can be appointed to look into this area.