NTUC's MediShield Life wish list
THE labour movement yesterday called on the Government to make MediShield Life affordable, giving a slew of suggestions that would help especially the elderly and the poor.
One of the major ideas it is pushing is the standardisation of deductibles across all ages, meaning that those aged 81 to 92 years would pay $500 to $1,500 less than what they pay now.
Currently, those in that age group pay deductibles of $3,000 for B2 class wards and above, $2,000 for C class wards and $3,000 for day surgery.
"Yes, we do understand that for those 81 years and above, the incidence of them going to the hospital is higher, but we are also mindful that this group is likely to have less savings than the younger cohort," said National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong.
She also noted that patients above 81 years old are not likely to be working and, hence, would not have monthly Medisave contributions.
The NTUC also proposed a reduction in the co-insurance rates borne by patients for claims above $10,000, to 3 per cent. This follows the MediShield Life Review Committee's recommendations last month to reduce the rates to 5-10 per cent for inpatient bills, and 10 per cent for outpatient bills.
For "exceptionally larger bills", NTUC is asking the committee to consider even further tiering of co-insurance rates to help patients cope with out-of-pocket expenses.
These recommendations come after focus-group discussions with over 300 people, including union leaders, the self-employed and pensioners.
The labour movement also called for more assistance for chronic outpatient illnesses, and suggested adding more drugs to the standard drug list - which are cheaper than non-standard drugs - after they have been used "regularly and effectively" for a certain period of time.
Every year, more than 1,000 new drugs are registered in Singapore but only a dozen are added to the list.
Acknowledging that premiums might go up if NTUC's recommendations are implemented, Ms Cham said: "If these are necessary measures to put in place to ensure this scheme remains comprehensive, and accessible to the majority of Singaporeans, then we should find ways and means as to how we could manage the affordability by either getting more government top-ups or by helping individuals accumulate more in their Medisave."