Medical insurance: 5 insurers to offer standard no-frills B1 plan
THERE will be a standard, no-frills medical insurance plan pegged at the cost of private B1 class in public hospitals from May 1.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday the plan will be offered by all five insurers that have IPs - private medical plans integrated with MediShield Life.
This follows the recommendation of the MediShield Life Review Committee for such a plan to "give Singaporeans an option for enhanced coverage beyond the basic MediShield Life level in a standardised, affordable and easily understood package".
But while the benefits of the plan are identical, the premiums the insurers charge differ - by as much as $1,683 a year.
MOH said this is due to "each insurer's commercial considerations and risk assessment frameworks".
MediShield Life, launched last November, covers all 3.9 million Singaporeans and permanent residents for life.
Of them, almost two in three have also bought IPs that cover them for private treatments. Private hospital IPs account for 56 per cent, A class 25 per cent and B1 19 per cent.
Patients in B1 class can choose their doctor but those in subsidised B2 or C cannot. Four patients share an air-conditioned room in B1 while 6-10 share a non-air-conditioned room in B2 and C.
There are currently seven B1 IPs, of which three no longer accept new policy holders. Of the four taking in new ones, three are "as charged" plans, which means there is no cap on treatment costs.
The new standard no-frills B1 plan has claims limits, such as $1,700 a day for a patient in a B1 ward, and $2,900 a day in intensive care.
Like MediShield Life, it also does not pay for pre- and post-hospital treatment.
The majority of IPs do cover such costs, usually for three to four months after discharge.
MOH said the standard plan should be able to fully pay for 90 per cent of all B1 bills. The five insurers will send letters to existing B1 policy holders to offer them the choice of switching to the standard plan.
They will not raise premiums for the standard B1 plan for two years. Currently, these premiums can be fully paid for with Medisave, at least up to the age of 75.
The amount of Medisave that can be used is the MediShield Life premium plus $300 to $900 depending on the age group.
Khoo Kah Siang, president of the Life Insurance Association of Singapore, said the plan will appeal to people who want more coverage than MediShield Life, or who want to downsize from their existing private plans.
He added that people should not look only at premiums when deciding on an IP as these are not guaranteed and insurers "may raise premiums differently over time".