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Correlation between quantum of medical bills and medical insurance coverage

3rd Feb 2021

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Seah Kian Peng
MP for Marine Parade GRC

Question No. 410

To ask the Minister for Health whether there is any evidence to show correlation between the quantum of medical/hospitalisation bills and medical insurance coverage.

Written Answer

Different health insurance products affect healthcare consumption and bills differently. For example, Integrated Shield Plan (IP) full riders which cover the entire co-payment under the IP plan, have contributed to higher medical/hospitalization bill sizes. For private hospital riders, the average bill size for individuals with zero co-payment insurance coverage is around 25% higher than those with some form of co-payment in 2019. While full riders are popular because patients are not required to make any co-payment, they can inadvertently lead to over-consumption, over-servicing and over-charging of healthcare services, and ultimately, rising healthcare costs and higher insurance premiums for all.

This is why the Ministry of Health had worked with insurers to introduce a minimum level of co-payment for new IP riders in 2018. This was an important move to preserve the principle of co-payment in our healthcare financing system. All stakeholders must continue to play their part and exercise responsibility in choosing and delivering appropriate and necessary care.

Ensuring that our insurance scheme design encourages appropriate healthcare consumption becomes increasingly important given our rising healthcare costs. For example, the MediShield Life Council recently observed that the rise in cancer prevalence and emergence of higher cost cancer therapies have led to an increase in chemotherapy claims. The current design of a single claim limit catering to the wide range of chemotherapy treatments may need to be reviewed to strike a better balance between providing access to appropriate treatments and keeping claims growth sustainable. MOH will continue to monitor and review various features of healthcare insurance design as necessary, in order to ensure that healthcare treatments remain affordable and sustainable for Singaporeans.

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