55 maids a year require medical treatment costing more than $15,000
Over the last three years, an average of 55 foreign domestic workers (FDWs)a year required inpatient or day surgery treatment that cost more than $15,000, Minister of State for Manpower Sam Tan said in Parliament yesterday.
These cases make up around 3 per cent of the 1,900 cases of maids who sought treatment at public hospitals here in the same time period, added Mr Tan, who revealed the numbers in a reply to questions from Mr Patrick Tay (West Coast GRC) and Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) over help available for employers to foot these "unexpected and huge medical bills".
Within the same time frame, he said there were three to four cases a year of employers who have had to pay medical bills above $50,000 at public hospitals for their domestic workers.
Employers are required by law to purchase insurance plans for their FDWs.
Most basic plans offered by insurance companies cost less than $250 for 26 months of coverage. On average, such a plan will cost about $100 more if the hospitalisation coverage is doubled from $15,000 to $30,000.
The plan also includes personal accident insurance with a minimum coverage of $40,000.
During the exchange, Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten SMC) told the House about a private estate resident whose domestic helper sought treatment for a critical illness, raking up medical bills of more than $50,000.
Mr Lim said: "He can afford to pay, it is just difficult for me to explain to him that he has to pay that large sum of money for a domestic helper who is really not related to him."
Mr Tan replied that employers can decide for themselves if they would like to take up insurance plans with higher coverage if they are concerned about the risk of higher medical bills.
The Ministry of Manpower will continue to encourage agencies to spread this information to employers to soothe worries over medical costs, said Mr Tan.
He added that help is available for financial assistance - echoing a point that Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say had made in November 2016.
"For those who are genuinely having difficulties to pay the high medical fees incurred by their FDWs, they are encouraged to seek assistance from the medical social workers in the hospitals," said Mr Tan.