No one’s cheating your ElderShield money

CareShield and Eldershield have been in the news of late and it appears people have been seriously confused by what it is. Online articles and their vague understanding of it have come up with inaccurate criticisms, these include:

  • ElderShield has been “Profiteering”
  • People have been unable to claim under ElderShield
  • It is not useful and I’d rather manage my own insurance

To start off, let us understand what CareShield is. 

CareShield developed from ElderShield. Both are fundamentally the same thing: basic protection in case of disability. ElderShield makes payouts for up to six years. CareShield will make payouts for life.

CareShield is an insurance program to support the “severely disabled”. The program considers one to be severely disabled if one is unable to do three or more of these six activities:

  • Washing: The ability to wash in the bath or shower (including getting into and out of the bath or shower) or wash by other means.
  • Dressing: The ability to put on, take off, secure and unfasten all garments and, as appropriate, any braces, artificial limbs or other surgical or medical tools.
  • Feeding: The ability to feed oneself food.
  • Toileting: The ability to use the lavatory or manage bowel and bladder function through the use of protective undergarments or surgical appliances if appropriate.
  • Mobility: The ability to move indoors from room to room on level surfaces.
  • Transferring: The ability to move from a bed to an upright chair or wheelchair, and vice versa.

It then makes payouts of $600 for the rest of your life. It is cold hard cash, you can do whatever you want with it. 

Now, let’s address the criticisms:

a.) ElderShield had been profiteering

Fact:  There were reports that private insurers collected $3.3b in premiums and only $133m had been paid out in claims. Does this mean that the insurers made a killing?

No.

Premiums collected are not “surpluses”. They are funds to support future claims. These claims will go higher. Annual claims paid out have risen by 12 per cent per year from 2013 to last year, much faster than the 3 per cent increase per year in premiums collected over the same period.

b.) People have been unable to claim under ElderShield

There are circumstances where people have been unable to claim. The biggest reasons are: having a pre-existing illness before signing up and not meeting the criteria for being severely disabled (as described above).

If this is the case, every cent paid to ElderShield is refunded. When that happens, you can qualify for Interim Disability Assistance Scheme for the Elderly (IDAPE) which is similar to ElderShield. 

C.) It is not useful and I’d rather manage my own insurance

The problem with being young, is that we think we are invincible. We think that old age is a long distance away and there is no way we could possibly fall ill. Or we might think that our own financial planning and private insurance is sufficient. 

If you think your own private insurance and plans are good enough, then so be it. CareShield gives additional protection over and above what you already have. It is paid by MediSave and you’re betting a lifetime payout of some $11k against a crippling illness. If you’re lucky enough not to claim it, then look at it as an $11k contribution towards society – towards other needy people whom is unfortunate enough to require a claim.

Don’t think you’re invincible. As a human, you’re prone to a vast number of diseases and circumstance that can strike you down permanently. As we age, the chances of disability increases and the need for financial assistance widens. 

O.k. so there are many good things about CareShield. Does that mean there is nothing we can complain about?

There are a few things worth considering, and I write this as an applicant for both ElderShield and IDAPE for my father.

a.) People need to actually apply for it

I didn’t know about these programs until I started researching for them. Medical welfare literature is not a part of my daily reading. There was no advertisement, no public outreach material and no social worker that told me about such a program. 

I paid $200 for a doctor to visit and evaluate my father for ElderShield. He failed and the insurer refunded the money paid, but not the doctor’s fee. That’s nice, but not helpful. 

It was only on further research that I discovered IDAPE. My dad claimed this successfully and the doctor’s fee was refunded.

I wonder how many illiterate or unenlightened people out there whom qualify for ElderShield but don’t know about it. If you know of such a person, please share this with them. There ought to be more publicity and outreach for these programmes.

b.) The payment for doctor’s evaluation is too high

In order to qualify for Care or ElderShields, you need to get a doctor to ascertain that you cannot perform 3 out of the 6 daily activities. This costs money, and at $150 it is not a small sum either.

Although the money will be refunded to you on a successful claim, there is always the fear that the claim will not be successful. This becomes a barrier for low-income families whom cannot risk the money to “find out”. 

In short, CareShield is a basic first line of defence insurance for disability. It should not be the only insurance that you have, especially for someone whom is financially literate. It provides some relief for those whom have neglected buying insurance or could not afford it. 

Let us not be silly and accuse insurers and government of profiteering because it is not. It is non profit and that is why commercial insurers are really not interested in this type of public service program. 

It is a small sum to pay to assure that one has at least a small sum of money as relief should the worst happen, is CareShield then not a good thing?

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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1 Comment

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