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    Jan 29, 2014

    'Help old and low-income' with MediShield Life

    THE Government should step in and help the elderly and low-income earners with their premiums when MediShield Life kicks in.

    This was the key finding culled from focus groups by the government-appointed MediShield Life review committee, which is looking into how best to put in place the universal health-care insurance scheme.

    About 500 members of the public have taken part in focus groups since November last year.

    Currently, those aged above 90 and with certain pre-existing conditions do not qualify for MediShield coverage.

    But, last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Government would enhance the scheme to include them, calling it MediShield Life. However, this would mean that elderly folk, upon passing 90, will have to continue paying premiums for coverage.

    "Inevitably, better coverage means higher premiums," said the committee's chairman, Mr Bobby Chin, yesterday.

    The committee pointed out that some elderly folk may not have had enough time to build up sufficient savings for premiums, as they were close to retirement or retired when Medisave was introduced in 1984.

    Most among the focus groups said they would want the premiums to be fully funded through Medisave.

    Moving forward, the committee will seek to gather feedback on issues like pre-funding, which is paying higher premiums at a younger age, and how to bear the cost of providing coverage for those currently uninsured.

    The committee said updates would be given in a month or two. It is due to give its recommendations in May.