With rapid medical inflation and rising health concerns due to environmental and genetic factors in Singapore, it is time to reconsider if the basic MediShield Life, a health insurance policy offered to all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents, can offer enough medical protection in the long run. After all, the cost of healthcare in Singapore has increased by 54.8% since 2001 and there is little doubt that this cost will continue to rise.
That said, instead of hoping that MediShield Life’s S$150,000 annual claim limit will suffice, taking out an Integrated Shield Plan in Singapore (IP) may offer more viable solutions and peace of mind.
What is an Integrated Shield Plan
An Integrated Shield Plan, also known in short as IP, is an optional health coverage provided by private insurers in Singapore. The seven plans available in the market include:
- Healthshield Gold Max by AIA
- GREAT Supreme Health by Great Eastern
- Life Shield by HSBC
- IncomeShield by Income
- PruShield by Prudential
- Raffles Shield by Raffles Health Insurance
- Singlife Shield by Singlife
If you’re looking for the best health insurance in Singapore, you may want to consider adding an IP because it provides upgraded coverage on top of your MediShield Life. For instance, MediShield Life only covers large hospital bills in Class B2 or C wards in public hospitals, surgery procedures up to S$2,600 and selected outpatient treatments. Should you wish to opt for a private hospital or Class A wards, you will have to pay for the differences using your MediSave or cash.
When you purchase an IP from private insurers, you can more easily scale your medical protection with different plans or include riders that are not included in a typical MediShield Life Plan. Take IncomeShield as an example, the standard plan offers an annual claim limit of S$200,000, S$21,840 for surgery and S$31,300 for radiosurgery. The coverage is far more extensive than MediShield Life which caps annual claims at S$150,000, surgery at S$2,600 and radiosurgery at S$10,000.
However, do note that MediShield Life is a mandated coverage for all citizens and PRs. Whether you choose to buy an additional IP or not, you will always have the basic medical protection from MediShield Life. In the event that you decide to get more medical protection with an IP, you’ll have to pay the additional premium using cash or MediSave but subject to the prevailing Additional Withdrawal Limits.
What Does An Integrated Shield Plan Cover
Here’s a quick look at what a standard IP covers and how it compares with MediShield Life:
|Types of Plans||MediShield Life Plan||Integrated Shield Plan|
|Annual premium (from 1 to 75 years old)||S$135.50 to S$1,233.64||S$157 to S$1,770|
|Hospitalisation cover||Public hospitals,Class B2 or C wards only||Public hospitals, Class B1 wards|
|Surgical Implants cover||S$7,000 per treatment||S$9,800 per treatment|
|Radiosurgery cover||S$31,300 per treatment||S$31,300 per treatment|
|Kidney dialysis cover||S$1,100 per month||S$3,740 per month|
|Radiotherapy for cancer
|Erythropoietin for chronic kidney failure||S$550 per month||S$450 per month|
|Immunosuppressants for organ transplant||S$200 per month||S$1,480 per month|
|Long-term parenteral nutrition||S$1,700 per month||S$3,980 per month|
|Annual claim limit||S$150,000||S$200,000|
Comparatively, a standard IP provides an instant upgrade from Class B2 ward to B1 ward. There is also a higher financial coverage than MediShield Life. For those who are predisposed to certain conditions and have a history of poor health, an IP may present more financial support should an unexpected medical problem crop up.
However, do note that standard IPs are of the lowest tier. If you prefer more enhanced benefits such as hospitalisation in Class A ward in private hospitals, there are higher end IPs to select from. The crux of the matter lies in how much annual premium you wish to pay and what coverage is most essential for you.
Tips To Make the Most Out of Your Integrated Shield Plan
Ready to buy an IP? Here are three tips that will help you maximise it.
1. Evaluate What You Want To Cover
Steer clear of buying the most expensive plan with fancy features. Instead, do a thorough assessment on what you want to cover, any health conditions you are predisposed to and pre-existing health problems you have. With some planning, you may realise what you need is an additional rider with a standard plan rather than a top-tier IP Plan with Class A ward entitlement.
Don’t forget to evaluate the affordability of the plan too. The annual premium for an IP is a few times more than MediShield Life premiums and like any health insurance, IP annual premiums also increase with age. Buying an enhanced IP may not be a financial challenge now but the rising premiums can become a burden in your 70s or 80s when you are no longer working.
2. Opt For An IP With No-Claim Discounts
While insurers may sometimes increase the premiums when customers make too many claims, there are also those who reward customers with no-claim discounts. For example, Great Eastern works on a Claims-Adjusted Pricing (CAP) framework which allows customers to enjoy 20% off standard premium rates at their next policy renewal if they do not make any claims
When looking for a suitable IP, be sure to do a quick check on which of the seven insurers offer such a deal because even small savings on premiums can accumulate to a substantial amount over time.
3. Select An Insurer With A Sizable Panel
It is a common practice for insurers to introduce their own list of panel specialists to mitigate expensive claims. However, landing an insurer with a sizable panel can be more beneficial than one with just a handful of specialists. What if a health problem strikes and you can’t find an appropriate panel doctor to consult?
Importantly, don’t just go for an insurer with a large panel. Take the extra step to evaluate the depth of the panel to ensure it covers different medical faculties and subspecialists. This way, you will be assured of comprehensive medical support at all times.
If you choose to go beyond MediShield Life to obtain an IP for extra protection, a thorough assessment of what you want to be covered in the long run is the first step in putting your health protection in order. Even though there is no way to know if you will always be in the pink of health, taking proactive actions like signing up for an IP can protect you from health and finances challenges when you least expect them.
Need more information about the best Integrated Shield Plans in Singapore? Check out our list of Best Health Insurance in Singapore 2023. Our health insurance experts have scouted the market to identify IPs that offer the best value.
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