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THE government will adopt a "fair and compassionate approach" in the assessment of additional premiums for those with pre-existing medical conditions under the universal health coverage scheme, MediShield Life.
Speaking in Parliament at the second reading of the MediShield Life Scheme Bill, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that while it would be fair for those with pre-existing medical conditions to pay higher premiums to reflect the higher risks, it is also important to ensure these premiums would not be too onerous.
Those with pre-existing conditions have to pay additional premiums of 30 per cent for the first 10 years.
"The key focus would be on serious pre-existing medical conditions that are likely to be life threatening; or have high risk of future complications or recurrence, and therefore may require prolonged treatment. Singaporeans with these conditions will benefit significantly from the enhanced protection when they are covered under MediShield Life, as many of them would not have been able to get insurance coverage for their pre-existing conditions in the past," said Mr Gan.
In presenting the Bill for debate, he said the Health Ministry (MOH) is currently reviewing the list of serious pre-existing medical conditions, with specialist advice from clinicians.
He added that MOH will share more on the broad categories of such conditions later.
Individuals who have to pay the additional premiums will also be informed before the start of the scheme.
Under the Bill, provision has been made for the establishment of a MediShield Life Council, which will have the powers to review and make recommendations to the Health Minister on related issues and to review the scheme's administration.
It will comprise up to 17 members, said Mr Gan, who added that the council will be established by the time the scheme takes effect. More information will be released later.
To make it easier for the national insurance administrator to check the eligibility of individuals for MediShield Life premium subsidies and to identify those with serious illnesses, authorised personnel administering the scheme will be allowed to access financial and medical information in government and administrative databases under the Bill. These would include basic information registered with the government, such as residential addresses, the annual value of residences, as well as financial data such as income.
In his speech, Mr Gan assured that "stringent safeguards are in place to protect the information from unintended or inappropriate uses".
So far, more than a dozen Members of Parliament have expressed their views on the Bill.