How MediShield Life Works

Singapore citizens and permanent residents get health insurance coverage under the MediShield Life package. The scheme covers most ailments and its benefits are available on a lifelong basis. This is a major advantage as illnesses and medical expenses increase as people age.

Launched by the Singapore government towards the end of 2015, MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan designed to pay for the hospitalisation and certain outpatient treatments of the nation’s citizens. It was designed to replace MediShield, and therefore its health insurance premiums are paid from individual’s Medisave account in the Central Provident Fund. Why did the government introduce a new plan? MediShield Life is superior to MediShield in several ways:

  • The claim limits under the new plan are much higher.
  • MediShield provided coverage up to the age of 92. The new MediShield Life provides health insurance cover until death.
  • MediShield excluded certain people because of pre-existing conditions. MediShield Life provides cover even for HIV, congenital problems and other medical conditions.

Does MediShield Life cover all medical expenses?

MediShield Life pays for a host of serious ailments and the coverage is fairly generous. For example, the maximum payout for implants is S$7,000. Radiosurgery is capped at S$4,800 per procedure. Similarly, the limit for expenses on chemotherapy for cancer is S$3,000 per month. Patients requiring kidney dialysis are covered for an amount of S$1,000 per month.

But there are a number of exclusions as well. Some of the expenses that MediShield Life does not pay are:

  • Ambulance services
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Maternity charges
  • Dental work
  • Overseas medical treatment
  • Private nursing charges
  • Treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism

Important features of MediShield Life

There three important features of MediShield Life that you need to understand: claim limits, deductible and coinsurance. Below, we explain each concepts and how they impact your usage of MediShield Life.

Claim limits

MediShield Life insurance policy covers hospitalisation, charges for surgery, and the payment that you are required to make for staying in the hospital ward. The maximum amount that you can claim in a year is limited to S$100,000, which should be significant enough to cover most minor procedures. There is no lifetime limit on claims. The S$100,000 limit is broken into a number of individual items. For example, the daily ward and treatment charges are limited to S$700. If you need to stay in an intensive care ward, this limit is hiked to S$1,200 per day. Different surgical procedures, on the other hand, have individual limits of between S$200 and S$2,000.


MediShield Life doesn’t cover your entire hospital bill. It usually requires the patient to pay an amount, called deductible, up to a certain level before MediShield kicks in. Deductible is intended to reduce the number of small claims that most people can pay for relatively easily. Deductibles also help to keep premiums low by keeping the overall cost of health care at a manageable level. Our chart below summarises the deductible amount to be borne by an individual by age and the medical service received.

Annual deductible
Age80 & under81 & over
For stay in a Class C wardS$1,500S$2,000
For stay in a Class B2 ward and aboveS$2,000S$3,000


In addition to the deductible, you need to bear an additional portion of your hospital bill called co-insurance. Co-insurance typically varies between 3% and 10% of the total bill amount, and falls as the value of the bill rises.


You are entitled to MediShield Life payouts that are calculated on the basis of the subsidised bills payable at Class B2/C wards. For outpatient treatment and day surgery, the payout is also pegged to the subsidised rates that are applicable. In the event that you stay in a Class A/B/B2+ ward in a public hospital or a private hospital, the payout will be reduced on a pro-rated basis.

What is the premium payable for MediShield Life?

Your premium is calculated on an individual basis, and you can use this handy premium calculator to ascertain your yearly MediShield Life premium. All you need to calculate this amount is the annual value of your home, the household monthly income per person and some other details. You can also get an idea about the amount payable from the Premium & Subsidy Tables on the ministry of health website.

There are various subsidies available for the payment of the MediShield Life premium. Those who belong to the lower or middle-income groups, meaning they make per capita monthly income of S$2,600 or less and live in properties whose annual value is S$21,000 or less, get permanent subsidies.

Subsidies are also available for the Pioneer Generation – those born on or before 31 December 1949 and holding citizenship since 31 December 1986 or earlier.

Enhance your coverage with an Integrated Shield Plan

It is possible to get additional medical insurance coverage by paying a premium to a Medisave-approved private insurance company and obtaining an Integrated Shield Plan (IPs). This has two components – the MediShield Life component and the additional private insurance coverage.

Below is a list of IPs that are available in Singapore:

  • AIA HealthShield Gold Max
  • Aviva MyShield
  • AXA Shield
  • Great Eastern SupremeHealth
  • NTUC Income IncomeShield
  • Prudential PruShield

Many Singaporeans prefer to top up the basic coverage that MediShield Life offers. If you are planning to do that, you can get some tips by reading 5 Mistakes You Are Making When Buying Insurance in Singapore.

Duckju Kang

Duckju is the CEO of ValueChampion. He covers the financial services industry, consumer finance products, budgeting, and investing. He previously worked in the financial services industry, including at such hedge funds such as Tiger Asia and Cadian Capital.

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