Medisave is a national medical savings scheme introduced in April 1984 whereby part of our income is put into Medisave Accounts for the main purpose of meeting the future hospitalization needs of our own or our immediate family.
Under the scheme, every employee contributes 6.5-9% (depending on age group) of his monthly salary to a personal Medisave account.
A small portion (subject to yearly/monthly cap and/or deductible) can also be used for certain outpatient treatment and/or chronic diseases. This list includes:
Recently, Minister Lim Hwee Hua suggested to our Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan that Medisave be used to help pay for mammograms as our breast cancer screening rate is still low. Encouraging people to go for early screening can help prevent costly medical bills subsequently.
Mr Khaw mentioned that he is sympathetic to the idea, but he also wants to be sure that the solution is sustainable and will not cause future problems.
The main purpose of Medisave is to help pay for costly hospitalisation. That tends to happen at old age. Small outpatient bills should be paid out of pocket in cash otherwise the Medisave account might be depleted prematurely.
Therefore, the proposal will be studied at length before any policies are changed.
On another occasion last week, Mr Khaw also highlighted that the current contribution rate of 6.5% to about 9% does not build up enough reserves to pay for both big medical bills and long-term care.
Medisave was originally meant to pay for major hospital stays only but its use has since been expanded to include some outpatient payments.
Mr Khaw said the current contribution rate is not enough to cover long-term healthcare bills and is likely to have to go up. The increase in contribution rate will depend on what the members of parliament are ready to support.