The buffet table is now closed – What will become of us?

Posted 11 March, 2018 by Clearly
in Essential Reading, Stellar Guidance


It has been quite the week of tumultuous news, one of which hit us harder than most.

In the United States –
Trump: Trade Wars are fun and easy, let me take you guys to school
Us: Pfffft, don’t you have a wall to build?

In China –
Xi: I want to rule the CCP looooong time
Us: Meh. We use whatsapp, not wechat. So, whatever, brah.

In Singapore –
Gan Kim Yong: No more full coverage riders, you’ll need to co-pay your hospital bills


All News


Oh yes. That’s the one that hit home.

The media has been tripping over themselves coming up with updates and findings. Many an online community has been set ablaze with discussion. (The Seedly community being a notable example)

We’ve even caught wind of a group of individuals who planned to protest this change, but it seems they never got past the contemplation stage.


But that’s besides the point. What’s Clearly Surely’s contribution in all of this?

As a consumer, it would be best that you understood what transpired, how the new change will affect you, and what are your options.

Let’s begin.


What Happened: A Timeline


The first appearance of the as-charged Integrated Shield Plan Riders to the market (full-cover riders)


Integrated Shield Plan (IP) Insurers recorded their first ever underwriting losses


Source: Health Insurance Task Force Report 2016


2016 (Full year)
IP Insurers : We lost money. Big money. (full year underwriting losses on Shield Plans for 2016)
Source: Business Times (September 2017)


Late 2016 till Late 2017
IP Insurers: We are raising premiums to cover our losses, and for long term sustainability
Sources: Today (November 2016), Straits Times (March 2017)


7th March 2018 (Morning)
IP Insurers : We can’t do this no more. HALP

The six companies selling MediShield Life-linked health insurance have appealed to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to make it compulsory for existing as well as new policyholders to pay part of their hospital bills, even if they buy riders that now cover the entire amount.

Several insurers The Straits Times spoke to said no insurer is willing to suffer the same fate as Income. But they also cannot agree to stop selling riders for fear of falling foul of the Competition Act. Faced with underwriting losses, they turned to the MOH for help.


Source: Straits Times (behind a paywall)


7th March 2018 (Afternoon)
Gan Kim Yong in Parliament: No more full coverage riders to be sold

Therefore, MOH has been working with the insurance industry, and have issued a set of new requirements to Integrated Shield Plan insurers which will be applied to all new rider policies. We will require them to have co-payment features going forward. SMS Chee Hong Tat will elaborate more. This will encourage responsible behaviour by both patients and healthcare providers.


Source: Ministry of Health Press Room


Also, Chee Hong Tat in Parliament: The new riders must have a co-payment of 5% or more, up to a cap.

a. New IP riders must incorporate a co-payment of 5% or more.

b. To address concerns from some policyholders that they may face high co-payment amounts due to the unlikely event of very large bills, the new riders will have a cap on the co-payment amount each year.

c. New riders will be available within a year. In the meantime, insurers can continue selling their existing rider plans, but must inform new policyholders that they will transit to the new riders with co-payment from 1 April 2021.


Source: Ministry of Health Press Room


Three things caught our attention.

First thing: On the same day that the plea from Insurers was released, firm actions were announced. My, isn’t that the Mother of all coincidences?

Second thing: 1st April 2021. April Fool’s day. Is there a deeper, sinister symbolism behind that date? *Shug*

Third thing: Insurers do display a fair amount of unity when it matters. Alexandre Dumas (who wrote The Three Musketeers) would be ever so proud. All for one and one for all!


8th March 2017
All hell breaks loose (Online, anyway)


11th March 2017
Clearly Surely publishes this article, a few days late to the party. (Sorry)


How are you affected?


That depends.

Broadly speaking, you will fall into one of two camps.

Camp A: People who already have full coverage riders before 8th March 2018 (Some people squeaked by with last hour submissions!)

Camp B: Everyone else not in Camp A


For Camp A folks, it seems that for now at least, you will get to keep the full coverage riders to perpetuity, unless you choose to change your rider or insurer. Senior Minister of State for Health Lam Pin Min has clarified that here.

FYI 29% of Singapore Residents fall under this camp, including little ol’ me. But things may change, just as this requirement came out of the blue as well.


For Camp B folks, you may already have a rider, but it does not provide full coverage. In that case, you’ve fulfilled MOH’s intentions already. Nothing else to do, I suppose. Your premiums may even fall in the future, if these new measures work as intended to curb over-consumption.

For those that have no riders or shield plans thus far, you can still buy the full coverage riders (if you so choose) from now till 1st April 2019. But by April Fool’s Day of 2021, you will have to (forcibly or otherwise) switch to new riders that impose a minimum of 5% co-payment, depending on which insurer you are with. They come with an annual cap of $3,000, assuming you use the medical network approved by your respective insurer.


What should you do now?


Same thing as the British, 79 years ago:



One for the ages


The idea should still be to get properly covered for hospitalization bills as best you can. If you are in Camp A, then you have the option of lowering your premiums by choosing a rider with co-payment, if you wish.

If you are in Camp B, you should still consider getting a rider, regardless with co-payment or not.


Remember this:

News may hit you hard, but hospitalization bills will always hit you harder.


Now that is a quote we can be proud of.

Ciao now! aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.

We have nothing against important deadlines being set on 1st April(s). But hor, setting it them on 2nd April or 31st March increases its credibility. #justsaying

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