MediShield Life premiums will remain the same for the first five years, said Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong.

The assurance on the new universal health insurance scheme was given by Mr Gan on Saturday, a day after the MediShield Life Review Committee unveiled its recommendations.

He also said the standardised Integrated Shield Plan for Class B1 wards will likely start along with MediShield Life at the end of 2015.

The health minister said premiums for MediShield Life will hold over the next five years after taking into account likely cost increases.

Mr Gan said: “We will hold it for as long as we can. We have already taken into account the projected cost increase over the next five years in deciding the premiums.

“We cannot preclude catastrophic changes to healthcare landscape — that is hard to predict.

“But all things being equal, based on our projection, we have already taken into account the likely cost increases over the next five years in our premium projection. We do not have the intention to vary the premiums.”

To ensure premiums are affordable, two-thirds of all Singaporean households will be eligible for subsidies.

Larger families will receive more premium subsidies. The health minister said this is to help cushion the financial commitments that they face.

Mr Gan said: “For those with older parents — especially those parents who are not in the pioneer generation — and young kids, with large families, their financial burden will be heavier.

“And therefore, we take that into account, and that is why the subsidy structure is based on per capita income, depending on the number of people in the family. The larger the family, or the lower the income, more subsidies will be provided.”

While MediShield Life will provide better benefits, there are concerns that health costs will increase among service providers.

Mr Gan said efforts will be stepped up in claims experience monitoring. But in general, he said public hospitals are mindful about being able to deliver cost-effective health care.

On the proposed Standard Integrated Shield Plan covering Class B1 wards, the health minister said there should not be large variations in premiums between private insurers.

He added: “The cost structure of the different providers may be different and the service provided may be different and so they may want to charge a different premium based on their offerings.

“I would imagine that the differences between the service providers ought not to be very large because basic features of B1 plan will be the same.”

The MediShield Life Review Committee has also recommended that the CPF Board and the Health Ministry publish more information on the MediShield Life fund.

Mr Gan said his ministry will look into how they can provide more financial information to the public, such as how the fund works and what the relationship is between the Integrated Shield Plans and MediShield Life.

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