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MediShield Life debate: Bigger push for portable medical benefits

MediShield Life debate: Bigger push for portable medical benefits
Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014
The Straits Times
By Andrea Ong

SINGAPORE - A tripartite working group has been formed by the Singapore National Employers Federation, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and the Government to look into getting more employers to shift to portable medical benefits built on MediShield Life, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.

The Government will also consider strengthening incentives to companies which are willing to provide such portable benefits to their workers, one of the recommendations by the MediShield Life review committee.

Mr Gan made these announcements in opening the parliamentary debate on the committee's report on MediShield Life.

In it, the review committee had called for employers and unions to work together to reduce the duplication of coverage between employer medical benefits and MediShield Life.

The minister noted these concerns as well as the worry that employees who rely on employers' benefits would lose such coverage when they stop working or retire.

He said MediShield Life provides an opportunity for stakeholders such as employers and unions to work together to better assure workers of lifetime medical coverage, not just for the duration of their employment.

While the 1 percentage point increase in employer Medisave contribution from next year will help, Mr Gan said more can be done to urge employers and employees to shift towards portable benefits built upon MediShield Life.

He said he is encouraged that the public service has taken the lead to raise its employer Medisave contribution to officers to help them pay for MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans.

"I hope more employers and unions will work together to do this for their workers," he said.

Yesterday, at least seven of the 13 MPs who rose to speak touched on the issue of portable benefits.

Most supported the need for these benefits to prevent duplication with MediShield Life, and had suggestions for how to get more employers on board, such as improving the messaging to companies and giving more financial help or tax exemptions.

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