MediShield Life: Don’t come home for over 140 days, or else?

2017-outlookfairly-bleak

 MediShield Life’s premium collection policies discourage Singaporeans overseas  from returning?

I refer to the article “3,000 Singaporeans living abroad have applied to stop paying MediShield Life premiums” (Straits Times, Oct 27).

It states that “About 70 per cent of these applications were approved. Another 26 per cent were rejected because they did not fulfil the criteria for application and the final 4 per cent are still being reviewed … there are 213,400 Singaporeans residing abroad at the end of September.

Applicants who wish to suspend their MediShield Life premiums need to have a valid permanent resident permit in the country they are living in. They also are required to have lived abroad for at least five years, with no more than 140 days spent back in Singapore during this period.

They should be able to afford healthcare in their country of residence and declare that they do not need to rely on MediShield Life in Singapore. This declaration can be made if they have not benefited from MediShield or MediShield Life payouts in the five years prior to the start of the suspension.

They should also have either completed their full-time National Service, or are not required to serve full-time National Service.”

As to “The suspension will continue for each person as long as he continues to fulfil all the criteria. Any outstanding premiums prior to the start of the Suspension Period1must still be paid” – does it mean that if at any time the successful “suspension” applicant does not “continue to fulfil all the criteria” – such as exceeding the 140 days in any 5-year period –  “He will have to pay the accumulated sum of premiums not paid previously, with compound interest2.

Cessation of the Suspension of Premium Collection 

Should a successful applicant (a) choose to relocate back to Singapore or (b) no longer meet the eligibility criteria for suspension of premium collection, the arrangement will cease. He will have to pay the accumulated sum of premiums not paid previously, with compound interest2.

Seeking MediShield Life Coverage for Treatment in Singapore 

If a successful applicant seeks medical treatment in Singapore during suspension of MediShield Life premium collection (e.g. while visiting), he can choose to claim and benefit from MediShield Life payouts. Once he does so, his suspension of MediShield Life premium collection will cease and he will have to pay the full sum of the premiums not paid previously, with compound interest2.

1 The Suspension Period will start on a date specified by the Board when your application is approved and will end when the Insured’s MediShield Life Scheme cover ends or the suspension of premium collection is earlier ceased by the Board.
2 The interest rate is currently 4% per year and will be subject to applicable laws as may be amended from time to time. Interest will be imposed and computed on a compounded basis on full policy years that have passed.
4 Applicant should not have benefitted from MediShield or MediShield Life payouts in the five years prior to the start of the suspension of premium collection.”

So, are we in a way discouraging Singaporeans

… from relocating back to Singapore

… to come home too often or for too long to visit their family and friends

… to avoid seeking medical treatment and claim under MediShield Life when they are back visiting

… give up their citizenship so that they do not have to worry about inadvertently exceeding the 140 days in any 5-year period

– because they would have to pay back all the previously waived premiums plus compound interest?

Are there any countries in the world with such arguably, strict and draconian “forced premium” collection measures and policies?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.