Singapore

Long-term disability insurance to become compulsory

CareShield Life and Long-Term Care Bill passed

Long-term disability insurance will become compulsory for people born from 1980 onwards, after a Bill to that effect was passed in Parliament yesterday.

This move plugs another gap in Singapore's healthcare and ageing support.

In 2015, MediShield Life was made compulsory to provide universal health coverage. Older people were then offered support through the Pioneer and, later, Merdeka Generation packages.

With an eye on the future, the CareShield Life and Long-Term Care Bill was passed yesterday.

CareShield Life will provide for the basic long-term care needs for younger residents as they age should they become severely disabled. Those born in 1979 or earlier have the option to join, with significant help on offer to do so.

Under the scheme, anyone who is severely disabled will be given at least $600 a month for the length of their disability, often for life, to help them pay for the care they prefer.

The premium and payout will be adjusted over the years to keep the payout sufficient for the basic needs of people who are severely disabled.

HIGHER PAYOUT

Several of the 15 MPs, including Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC), who spoke on the subject asked for the payout to be higher.

But Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said those who want higher payouts can buy supplementary schemes from private insurance companies. Premiums for these can be paid with Medisave - like the CareShield Life premiums - up to an annual capped amount.

The Government wants to keep CareShield Life basic and affordable for most people.

The Bill paves the way for the Government to take over the existing ElderShield insurance run by three insurance companies. ElderShield payouts are lower and limited to a maximum of six years, even if the person remains disabled for longer.

Mr Gan explained: "These provisions allow us to proactively reach out to disabled individuals to inform them of their eligibility for claims, not just for CareShield Life and ElderShield, but also for other government disability schemes, using disability assessments already performed at healthcare institutions."

Safeguards will also be put in place to prevent abuse.

For example, payouts to people who lack mental capacity can be managed by a caregiver. Policyholders may also make a healthcare institution, such as a nursing home, receive their payout. But the money must first be used to provide care to the policyholder. Not doing so will be an offence, and as it is an offence against vulnerable people, the penalty will be double that for false declarations, he said.

The penalty for false declarations is a $5,000 fine, jail for up to 12 months, or both. Those found guilty also have to pay twice the amount claimed.

The Government will take "a strict stance" against people who can afford to pay their premiums but wilfully refuse to do so. These include Singaporeans living overseas.

MEDICAL & HEALTH