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Singapore task force urges action to rein in health insurance claims and costs

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THE Health Insurance Task Force on Thursday issued a set of significant recommendations aimed at reining in rising claims rates of Integrated Shield Plans (IP).

THE Health Insurance Task Force on Thursday issued a set of significant recommendations aimed at reining in rising claims rates of Integrated Shield Plans (IP).

The escalation of claims raises the spectre of steep premium hikes which may become unaffordable especially as policyholders age and cease to work. Eventually IPs themselves may become unsustainable. Data from the Life Insurance Association (LIA) shows a sharp deterioration of insurers' underwriting profit margins between 2011 and 2013.

Among others, the task force recommended the introduction of medical fee benchmark or guidelines, and clarification on the existing process to "surface inappropriate medical treatment".

On product features, it recommended the use of a panel of "preferred healthcare providers" and the adoption of a framework to "pre-authorise" or approve medical treatment. It also recommended deductibles and co-insurance features. At the moment, half of IP policyholders have a rider to cover these costs.

The task force comprises 11 members from bodies such as the LIA, the Singapore Medical Association and the Consumers Association of Singapore. It is chaired by Mimi Ho of Regulatory Professionals.