1. The MediShield Life Council (MLC) has submitted its recommendations to the Minister for Health on the treatment of MediShield Life (MSHL) coverage for overseas Singaporeans (OS).
2. The Council has recommended that OS should remain covered under MSHL. However, a small and distinct group of OS who live abroad permanently with no intention to reside in Singapore can be granted suspension of MSHL premium collection if they meet the eligibility criteria.
3. In its review, the MLC sought inputs from both OS and locally-based Singaporeans. The final recommendations reflect the MLC’s assessment after extensive deliberations and careful consideration of the many good ideas and suggestions received.
4. MLC Chairperson Mrs Fang Ai Lian said, “This was a complex issue and the Council took into consideration the varying circumstances of different groups of Singaporeans. Ultimately, our aim is to ensure that MediShield Life continues to meet the healthcare needs of all Singaporeans.”
5. The MLC supports the principle of MSHL as a universal health insurance scheme that provides protection for all Singaporeans for life, regardless of their circumstances, background and health conditions. Everyone contributes to the scheme as part of collective responsibility. This includes OS, who remain covered under MSHL, and can benefit from MSHL whenever they seek medical treatment in Singapore.
6. However, the MLC recognised that there is a small and distinct group of OS who have chosen to live abroad permanently, have no intention to reside in Singapore, and feel that they will not benefit from MSHL. For this group of OS, the MLC has recommended the following administrative arrangement:
a) OS who live abroad permanently with no intention to reside in Singapore can apply for suspension of MSHL premium collection.
b) The eligibility criteria to apply for suspension of premium collection are as follows:
I. Are Singapore Citizens;
II. Live abroad permanently with no intention to reside in Singapore, based on the following supporting indicators:
i. Possess a valid permanent residency permit in their country of residence;
ii. Resided outside Singapore for at least five years immediately preceding their application for suspension of premium collection, except for short visits 1; and
iii. Able to afford healthcare treatment in their country of residence, and declare that they do not need to rely on MSHL in Singapore.
c) OS who apply and meet the eligibility criteria will be granted suspension of MSHL premium collection. The suspension will continue as long as the OS continue to fulfil the criteria.
d) Should the OS choose to relocate back to Singapore or no longer meet the eligibility criteria for suspension of premium collection, they will have to pay the accumulated sum of premiums not paid previously, with compound interest. These OS will be treated similar to other Singaporeans. They would not need to pay additional premiums for health conditions that they had developed during the suspension of MSHL premium collection.
e) Should the OS seek medical treatment in Singapore during suspension of MSHL premium collection (e.g. while visiting), he can still choose to claim and benefit from MSHL payouts. Once he does so, his suspension of MSHL premium collection will cease and he will have to pay the full sum of the premiums not paid previously, with compound interest.
Ministry of Health’s Response
7. The Ministry of Health has accepted the MLC’s recommendations. The recommendation to grant suspension of MSHL premium collection to a small and distinct group addresses the concerns of OS who are permanently away but wish to retain Singapore citizenship for various reasons, while ensuring an equitable balance vis-à-vis locally-based Singaporeans.
8. The Ministry thanks the Council for its review. The Council members have brought a wide range of expertise and perspectives to their extensive deliberations. Their recommendations will help to ensure that MSHL continues to meet the healthcare needs of all Singaporeans.
9. OS who meet the eligibility criteria may apply to the CPF Board for suspension of MSHL premium collection from 7 October 2016. For further information regarding the administrative arrangement for OS and how to apply, please refer to the MSHL website.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
30 SEPTEMBER 2016