Imprisonment for MediShield Life defaulters unfair to overseas Singaporeans

Singaporeans (and Permanent Residents) who refuse to pay MediShield Life premiums once the universal health insurance is launched later this year could find themselves imprisoned if they try to leave the country.

The premiums will be compulsory – not just for people living here but also those who are living overseas for long periods. The new MediShield Life system will entitle Singaporeans and PRs living overseas to coverage should they fall sick in the future and decide to return for treatment.

Ms. Juliet Low is one such person whom is affected by the policy. She wrote in to the Prime Minister, with reasons why she feels the said rules work unfairly towards people like her.

Have a read below:
Dear Mr Lee,

I’m writing on behalf of some Overseas Singaporeans with respect to the Medishield Life Policy that will soon be implemented.

I’m very glad that we are finally getting our citizens universal coverage and applaud this move.

10 years ago, in order to obtain health insurance that would overlook my pre-existing conditions, I left Singapore to work in the USA. Today, I reside in the UK. One day, I hope to be able to return to Singapore to be closer to my family, when I find a sustainable way to ensure that my medical bills can be paid for.

This is a good system but I fear that in it’s current form of implementation, it has overlooked the fact that certain factions of Singaporeans overseas, do not require health insurance in Singapore, as we already pay for care overseas.

Many of us deem that it is unfair that we should pay for something we don’t actually use. Many of us are covered by travel insurance when we go visit Singapore, and are covered by our own personal or state insurance in our current jurisdiction.

I believe that MOH needs to look into exemptions for overseas Singaporeans and this is clearly not a very fair system. Our concerns are that when we eventually wish to return to Singapore, and when we genuinely need funds to pay for treatment, there would be practically nothing left in our already very limited funds in our Medisave, if we keep paying now for Medishield Life that we do not need. I also fear that this may cause unnecessary hardships for the many elderly who have chosen to retire overseas, in a bid to cut costs.

They are currently using the address on the NRIC to determine subsidies, etc. This is insufficient. They need to also look into the records of Singaporeans who have been registered with the OSU (Overseas Singaporean Unit) and have also been legally registered as overseas voters.

I had previously attempted to contact MOH directly but had been given a blanket statement that was from a low level staff, unable to influence changes to this new policy. I hope that this could be looked at from a higher level policy making committee.

There are talks on Social Media that many have been disappointed when they raised this issue with MOH or CPF. I think this could certainly be better handled.

I hope you are aware of this news. Many of us don’t have much funds left in our Medisave to pay for such premiums. A lot of overseas Singaporeans will be caught out. This is a rather slippery slope. MOH must look into exemptions otherwise risk this looking like another forced policy which is not good, since it is irrelevant to some special groups. It induces fear amongst us, when we risk imprisonment due to unawareness that we have to pay for due premiums.

I believe in our policies in Singapore. I believe our government continues to do their best for us. In large scale policies like this, there are bound to be special interest groups that are caught out unfavourably, but I also believe that policies can be sufficiently tweaked when escalated to ensure that the maximum number of people benefit, with the minimum number of people being adversely affected.

I will truly appreciate if you are able to pass this onto an appropriate channel for this to be escalated. Thank you very much Sir.

Always a Proud Singaporean,
Juliet Low




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