There is a common misconception that having MediShield Life will suffice to cover all sorts of medical and hospitalisation bills in our lifetime. This myth is so widespread that most people reckon it is unnecessary to pick up additional Integrated Shield Plans. But is it true?
Let’s figure that out in this article.
What Is an Integrated Shield Plan (IP)?
MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents that is administered by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board. It is meant to supplement medical treatment expenses and large hospital bills incurred in Class B2/C wards, even though there is a standardised claim limit of S$150,000 per year.
But if medical inflation continues to grow at 10% per year like between 2019 to 2020, will this amount be enough if one is struck with an unexpected health problem? What if your medical expenses exceed the coverage provided by the Medishield Life plan?
If you want better coverage that lets you have thorough health protection and ensure you can afford rising medical expenses down the road, opting for an additional IP will be a safer bet. An IP is an optional health coverage provided by private insurance companies like Prudential. Such a plan complements your MediShield Life plan, allows you to pay your premiums with your MediSave1 and even increases your coverage based on your preferences (if you prefer a better hospital ward or private hospitals).
It doesn’t end there. There is also an option to include IP Riders to receive enhanced medical benefits that are not included in the MediShield Life plan. This simply translates to a high level of protection and greatly reduces your out-of-pocket expenses when you encounter a medical emergency.
Moments in Life When a MediShield Life Plan Isn’t Enough
Let’s be real. No matter how healthy you are now or how unlikely you think you’ll require medical attention, there is still a possibility to incur a large medical bill that your MediShield Life Plan may not cover.
Here are a few moments in life when you wished that you had opted for more than just the MediShield Life plan.
Reportedly, the cost of healthcare in Singapore has increased by a whopping 54.8% between 2001 to 2021, averaging an inflation rate of 2.21% per year. At this rate, a S$10,000 medical bill can easily amount to over S$12,400 in 10 years. Not only does this mean medical expenses are getting more expensive, but it also means your MediShield Life Plan can claim for a lot less as time passes.
Increased Life Expectancy
The current life expectancy in Singapore is at 83.6 years and it is expected to increase to 85.4 years in 2040. That’s great news, but that also means you need to provision for longer healthcare coverage. With the proportion of older adults with multiple chronic diseases on the rise, it remains questionable if the trusted MediShield Life Plan is enough to ride through old age.
Unexpected Medical Conditions
The MediShield Life Plan may cover the basic bills but when the treatments amount to a larger proportion, it can easily break the bank. This is where a good IP can be the saving grace. It helps patients to pay hefty medical bills and let them recover with peace of mind.
Recover in Better Wards
Some may assume that they can live with subsidised treatments in B2/C-type wards in a public hospital. But when it comes to the crunch, when they are unwell (worse if they are diagnosed with chronic illness) and tired, can they truly put up with basic care? To qualify for better treatments and wards, having a MediShield Plan alone may not be enough.
Factors To Take Note of When Choosing an IP
If you’re ready to look for the best IP that suits your needs, here are six things you need to take note of:
Note that all IP riders require a co-payment of 5% from policyholders. This is to ensure both healthcare providers and policyholders are exercising prudence when making medical decisions and stop driving medical inflation up.
2. Ease of Claim
A good IP will also ensure that the claim itself is fast, seamless and easy. Some of the perks and services to facilitate your claiming processes might include:
- Number of days on average to process a claim
- Claims payout via digital payment eg. PayNow
- Pre-authorisation to match your bill
3. Letter of Guarantee
Does the insurer provide a Letter of Guarantee (LOG) prior to hospitalisation? LOG is useful because some hospitals may reduce the upfront cash deposit amount that you have to make an admission.
4. Premium Increase After Claims
Different insurers may have different practices. To be precise, check with your IP insurer to confirm if the premium will increase (and by how many per cent) should you make a claim.
5. Discount for No Claim
Some insurers offer claims-based pricing, meaning that when policyholders do not make a claim, they’ll enjoy a discount on their IP Riders premiums. For example, Prudential offers a 20% PRUWell Reward2 when you don’t make claims in your review period.
6. Panel Doctors
Evaluate if the insurer has a good list of doctors and specialists under their panel. An incomprehensive list may mean that you have to consult non-panel specialists and end up with more inconvenience or have to pay more.
PRUShield — Making Healthcare Better
PRUShield is a shield plan that complements your MediShield Life to offer comprehensive coverage for you. Here’s a quick look at its coverage:
|High Annual Coverage||Up to S$1.2 mil for medical treatment|
|Annual Coverage Refresh Benefit||Once per year|
|Guaranteed Renewability of Plan||Lifetime|
|Pre-hospitalisation coverage||Up to 180 days|
|Post-hospitalisation coverage||Up to 365 days|
|Deductibles3||Covers up to 95% of your Deductibles|
|Co-Insurance4||Covers 50% of your Co-Insurance|
|Estimated Premium (based on age 30)||S$308 - S$505|
|Claims Processing Duration||Same Day|
Low Out-Of-Pocket Cost
PRUShield has one of the lowest co-pay amount and a yearly Refresh Benefit among IPs available in Singapore.
Assuming that you are 30 years old and are holding a PRUShield Premier and PRUExtra Premier or Preferred Co-Pay, you’ll only need to pay S$800 for a claim of S$16,000 no matter whether it’s a panel or non-panel healthcare institution.
For a claim of S$120,000, a customer’s out-of-pocket will be capped at S$3,000 if the visit is made to a panel healthcare institution with a participating or Extended Panel specialist, and S$6,000 if otherwise.
Given that most people opt for an IP because they might not have enough cash on hand to pay big medical bills, the low out-of-pocket expenses are a tangible benefit for customers.
In addition, PRUShield's Yearly Refresh benefit protects policyholders from unforeseen changes in medical condition.
For example, a policyholder diagnosed with disease A has used up his claim limit of S$1.2mil for the treatment. This policyholder is then diagnosed with disease B (which is unrelated to disease A) within the same policy year. The claim limit will be refreshed for disease B, meaning that the policyholder can claim up to another S$1.2mil for disease B treatment.
Do note, however, that the refresh benefit can only be refreshed once per year.
Healthy Living Rewards
PRUShield also rewards customers for taking care of their health. It operates on claims-based pricing where your premium is determined by any claims made in the previous year.
If you stay healthy and do not claim during your review period, you can enjoy 20% PRUWell Reward off your premium.
Seamless Claims Process & PRUPanel Connect Value-Added Services5
Beyond just tangible financial benefits, PRUShield also shines in delivering the most seamless healthcare experience through a customer-centric approach.
Here are the unique quality-of-life services PRUExtra2 offers:
|PRUPanel Connect Value-Added Services|
|Transportation vouchers6 for hassle free appointment bookings||Yes|
|Concierge onsite at hospital||Yes|
|Keeping your future premiums affordable||Yes|
PRUShield also makes it extremely easy for customers to make claims. Customers can easily make e-Claims on PRUAccess and receive payouts via PayNow.
Letter of Guarantee (LOG) is provided at more than a thousand private and public clinics and hospitals, allowing your upfront cash deposit amount to be reduced during admission.
PRUShield has one of the fastest claim processing times according to MOH statistics for 1 Jan to 31 Mar 2022. On average, your claims will be processed on the same day.
Get The Right IP For Your Needs
Currently, you can enjoy 15% off on your first-year premiums, when you purchase PRUShield Premier or PRUShield Premier with PRUExtra supplementary plans between 1 April and 30 June 2022. T&Cs apply.
Also, if you’re an existing customer with a Shield Plan from non-Prudential insurers, signing up will be simpler than ever with PRUShield’s Simplified Issuance Offer.
Instead of a full questionnaire, the PRUShield application process is now simplified to just 3 underwriting questions - eliminating the hassle of switching your current plan to a better one.
Interested to find out more? Click here to learn more about PRUShield 2022.
|1||Up to the Additional Withdrawal Limit|
|2||Only applicable for PRUExtra Premier CoPay and PRUExtra Preferred CoPay.|
|3||Deductible is a fixed amount to be paid by a policy owner before the MediShield Life and PRUShield benefits are payable. Deductible will increase by 50% depending on ward class when the life assured is above age 85.|
|4||Co-insurance is a percentage of the claimable amount that a policyowner needs to co-pay after deductible.|
|5||PRUPanel Connect Value-Added Services is only for PRUExtra Premier CoPay and PRUExtra Preferred CoPay.|
|6||Transportation vouchers or car park coupons are only provided for inpatient admission or day surgery.|
|7||Cashless pre/post-hospitalization benefits are only for admission/ day surgery at Raffles hospital.|
This article was written in collaboration with Prudential. While we are sponsored by them, we still review products and services with an objective lens and stay true to our mission–providing you with the best recommendations and advice to make smarter financial decisions.