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Affordability of MediShield Life premiums will not be an issue: PM

The costs will be within each person's Medisave contributions into their CPF accounts

New York City

THE government will ensure that affordability "should never be an issue" when it comes to paying for the higher insurance premiums under the new MediShield Life scheme, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He promised that the cost of the new premiums, announced yesterday, would be within each person's Medisave contributions into their Central Provident Fund accounts.

"It is worked out like that, and I think that's a design feature which we will maintain," he told reporters in New York City on Thursday on the final day of his six-day working visit to the United States. "So over time, as costs change, as premiums change, we will make sure that it can be paid out of Medisave and therefore affordability should never be an issue," he said.

His comments came just hours before the MediShield Life Review Committee released its full report on the new universal health insurance scheme, which included details on the exact premiums one must pay.

The biggest rise in premiums before any subsidies are factored in is $355 a year for those whose next birthday is 76 to 78 years, lifting the new rate for this group to $1,130.

Those turning 21 to 30, meanwhile, will see a $129 increase in their premiums without subsidies, for a new rate of $195.

Mr Lee talked up the merits of MediShield Life, which is meant to cover all Singaporeans for life and provide them better protection against larger medical bills.

He also praised the work done by the 11-member review committee, which is chaired by Bobby Chin, a member of the Council of Presidential Advisers of Singapore and a Fellow Chartered Accountant of the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants.

The other members include Monetary Authority of Singapore deputy managing director Ong Chong Tee, Changi General Hospital chief executive Lee Chien Earn and IBM Singapore managing director Janet Ang.

"I think the committee has done a good job. This is a very complex proposal. It's a major step forward in enhancing our social safety nets, in assuring Singaporeans that they will have better protection against big medical bills," said the prime minister.

Hence, it was important to get all the details right, price the premiums affordably, and ensure that there was sufficient help for the groups that need the support.

"The committee has done their best to look into all these aspects and to make sure that the scheme we have is a good one," said Mr Lee.