Friday, 2 October 2015

Medishield Life and Integrated Plans

Last night, I attended this Medishield Life presentation given to Union leaders and activists at NTUC. 

At the reception and registration, I was a bit taken aback when everyone was calling each other "brother" and "sister"?

Is this how unionists call each other?

I would have preferred "comrade". That would put a left wing socialist vibe to the address which I think suits better. 

The presentation started at 7:03 pm when its stated on the programme 7:00 pm - not too bad. Can excuse with my clock and your clock not synchronised mah! I can live with that.

But participants were still strolling in by 7:10 pm... Union leaders? Hmm...

OK, I better stop trolling, least I won't be invited back for the free meals...

Everything you want to know about Medishield Life 

Here you go: Medishield Life 

What? You didn't expect me to spoon feed you, did you?

Don't you find it strange many retail investors like to rely on 2nd hand or 3rd party summaries - when they can go to the source directly?

Isn't it better to do your own homework, form your own opinions, then have a meaningful 2 way discussion with others (preferable just as informed as you), where needed?


You don't bitch about the increased premiums if you... 

Here's something to have fun with.

If you have colleagues or friends that like to bitch about the senior citizen cleaners at Changi airport, hawker centres; old folks collecting cartons and beer cans by the roadside, etc; see if they'll complain about the increased premiums for Medishield Life...

No, don't poke them.

Smile knowing they are "bleeding hearts" just as long as others pay. 

What you really cared about is what happens to your Integrated Plans right? 

Makes a lot of sense.

Especially when it was revealed in the Straits Times that 6 in 10 people with an IP for private hospitals opted for a public hospital when they needed hospitalisation!?

And this is even more depressing - 7 in 10 who bought IP for public hospitals A and B1 wards chose lower ward classes when seeking treatment!!!???

Now make a wild guess on these "downgraders" - did they purchase their IPs after doing their homework, or were these IPs sold to them?

Are you one of them?

Take this opportunity to press the reset button and start from zero-based.

Do your own homework on Medishield Life, reassess your needs and circumstances, and especially your financial situation. No one knows them better than you.

Of course I want to travel first class - who doesn't? But can you afford it?

Imagine paying premiums for first class tickets, but when the time comes for you to do the actual travel, you discover you can only afford budget airlines... All those past premiums paid down the drain...

Little lies we tell ourselves are one thing. But lying to yourself costs money when it comes to buying IPs we don't need!

Now armed with what you know, have a talk with your insurance agent.

It could be an opportune time to assess whether your agent is more interested in his own needs or yours.


  1. Hi SMOL

    Ownself check Ownself !

    Being in the healthcare line , ironically , some are more concerned about the bed class rather than their condition.

    Hotel and Hospital , Both starts with "H" .. same same but different .

    1. Small Time Investor,

      Even buying IPs, there are elements of kiasu and don't lose face embedded in them? Go figure!

      The ultimate culprits are ignorance and misinformation.

      People have a tendency to ask spear makers about shields, and shield makers about spears...

  2. Everyday, we treat ourselves 365 days a year and year after year in B1, B2 or C Ward; but when we are suddenly sick; we "demand" A ward treatment.

    That is strange! Guilty conscience at play or what?

    1. CW,

      You have sugar-coated it well :)

      Especially if we are the ones who exalt others to live a frugal life, stay in a smaller HDB flat, don't buy cars, skip Starbucks, pack your own lunch to office, shop private brands, buy only during sales, skim here, save there...

      Then when sick, want to be treated like "royalty".


      Panic sets in as they realise all those money they squirrelled away they cannot bring along with them :(

      And so many things they have yet to experience...

  3. That's a very good poke to everyone who buys IP.
    All the sweet talk on less co-payment and stuff but they don't tell you how high's the fees when staying at private or A-class wards. They don't tell you how the rate of subsidy differs. 'Royalty treatment' who don't want?

    1. Rainbow girl,

      That's why agents like to use % and not talk in absolute $ numbers.

      You don't ask; the agents don't tell.

      Evidently, only less than half the people who bought IPs can actually AFFORD what they aspire to get...

      You know, the rhetoric on I want to choose my own doctor, less waiting time, I get priority treatment, etc.

      Medical insurance should not be an aspirational "trophy".

      Start with what we can afford in the here and now.

      As we accumulate more wealth, gain higher/more incomes, etc; we can always upgrade our plans based on our new financial reality.

      What's the rush?

      It's not like Life insurance where we can "lock-in" the lower premiums if we buy earlier when "younger".

      For IPs, the premiums will go up according to our age risks and the rising inflation in medical costs :(

  4. Hi SMOL,

    Let me give another side.

    I've a plan to pay for a higher medishield plan while choosing to pay for a lower class ward. It's not about wanting to enjoy life or having privacy when hospitalised. It's about getting the fastest speed possible on the route to recovery and not having to worry while waiting. I've heard enough story of people having faster access to test and surgery for those with lesser subsidies. My mum is a case in point. She was talking to some other patients who had to wait for a very long time while she just took weeks.

    Have a look at Chin Wai's blog post here: It highlights the situation I've seen in several cases, including my own mum.

    I don't think it's true that you can switch to a higher plan when you want to. Sometimes ill health kicks in and while you can downgrade, you can't upgrade that easily. My plan is to use the highest plan for as long as I can afford, and then downgrade to a cheaper plan when necessary. Circumstances might change when I'm much older and the premiums sky rocket, so I reserve my judgement.

    The last point I want to make is about hospitalisation benefits. For a self employed who only gets paid when i'm working, it's good to have hospitalisation benefit - which is a cash benefit if you're hospitalised and unable to work. For my plan, if I choose not to stay in the highest ward (even though I paid for the highest plan), I can get hospitalisation benefits that will ease the income drop. It's not a deal breaker for me, but it gives added incentives not to 'enjoy' the best ward and downgrade.

    In summary, I really just like the speed and faster waiting time in a pte hosp or wards with lesser subsidies, hence I got the highest plan.

    1. Hi LPPL

      Agree on the part that switching to a higher plan to a certain extent. That has to depend on the health condition on the person applying for the plan at that point of time, such as any pre-existing condition before that and what kind of illness ?There are other factors too such as claims issues. Chances are the person may have to pay a higher premium due to higher risk of health conditions , or an exclusion of the condition , when applying through integrated plans.

      Most importantly is to understand what your're getting insured for.

    2. Small Time Investor and LP,

      First point we all agree is that if can afford who doesn't want the best?

      By "upgrade", I meant if I just started work and is working for someone else, based on my current financial status, I could take advantage of my company's Group Health and Surgical plans and together with Medishield Life I would be relatively "OK". I am young what?

      When I get promoted and is earning more several years later, I can always "upgrade" by buying an Integrated Plan. I've earned it.

      And if I even richer, I can even upgrade further by adding riders to complement my Integrated Plan so I don't have to pay a single cent on deductibles, co-insurance, no max claim limit, etc. I'm worth it!

      Of course life is not a straight-line extrapolation. We can get retrenched, be in between jobs when we get sick or be in an accident. So company's medical support not available :(

      And youth is no immunity against heart attacks, strokes, cancers, serious accidents, etc :(

      That's why Medishield Life is a step in the right direction. It kicks in from newborns to seniors with no age limits, and covers you even when you have congenital or pre-existing illnesses - no one is left behind without BASIC healthcare protection.

      Contrast this with IPs. You really have to read and understand the exclusion clauses!!!

      LP, as self-employed, you'll have to protect yourself more than those who can benefit from their company's Group Health and Surgical plans.

      Having said that, the you of today is not the same you when you just started giving tuition as a full-time job years before.

      It's like playing Diablo, We start with practically nothing. As we level-up, we add better armours and weapons.

      Its sad when we've bought a good weapon only to discover we do have the "right level" to equip it yet...

      More than half of those who bought IPs found out the hard way... It's not free medical healthcare like in the Scandinavian countries...

  5. Oh, one very important note to everyone. Doctors don't necessary know everything. If my mum is to listen to the advice of the first doc who read the body health report, she would wait and let the cancer cell fester and get into the later and more dangerous stages. Always always always seek second opinion. The average opinion of several 'experts' is better than just one individual.

    1. LP,

      That's why the old adage of visiting 3 shops before purchase makes a lot of sense.

      But we must also guard against doctor's advice we don't listen, we go listen to friends of friends, quacks, and mythical snake--oils...

  6. We can still pay the difference if we opt for higher class of treatment. Not much different from our company medical benefit on co payment basis. Company will just pay for their portion based on our level of medical benefit entitlement. But, downgrade to lower class, company doesn't pay us the difference in saving. :-(

    1. CW,

      You would understand better as you speak from first hand experience.

      There's a lot of misinformation and misdirection.

      Those who didn't do their own homework often assume there's duplication between IPs and Medishield Life... That shows how much they understood the IP they've bought...

      There's a lot more duplication between our company's Group Health and Surgical plans and IPs ;)

      And not all company's GHS plans are created equal. Working in MNCs, SMEs, and being self-employed make a lot of difference!

      Want to bet how many insurance agents will ask you on your company's GHS plans before selling IPs to you?

      You don't ask; I don't tell.

  7. SMOL,

    My mum and dad in law just ask me to check with my sis if they can upgrade their IP.

    I think the key word really is understand what u are buying.

    My bias view is if u are able and can afford it, get the highest IP.

    I am aware the prenium goes up as we aged and can go into several thousands in a year.

    I look at the expenses of my mum treatment, I would rather pay thousands every year.

    The bill so far including supplements which my sis brought is 50k. It's cash. Medisave is already used. Medisave has very low ceiling and my mum has 3 siblings

    Her radiotherapy has stopped since her conditions changed. So it is not going to be 50K.

    My biased view is since I have only 1 son, I dun want to burden him so I bought the highest as charged plan. With my "man whore" work comes strong medisave backing, and I dun think my cash payment wil go above $2k in my foreseeable life. If in my older days, I forego 40 k savings over 20 years because I made no claim I would have been minimum 80 years old. I think that is a big blessing!! I treat that as co - sharing of risk and donation to those in the same brackets who Kena need to claim.

    1. Well said SI, well said.

      Agree with you it's a huge blessing to hve no claims. Insurance is a funny business indeed lol

  8. Oh I mean my mum has 3 children ...

    Btw... My MIL and FIL have the 2 lowest bracket of IP, want upgrade also no chance. Has long been rejected

    1. Sillyinvestor,

      Can imagine how stressful it is for married couples who themselves come from single child families...

      If you pay for the IPs for one set of parents, how to say no to paying for parents-in-laws too?

      If both couples are working not so bad... But if only one party works?

      Imagine 1 person shouldering the IPs for 6 adults?

      What happens when this married couple eventually have children of their own?

      I am so glad I have 2 other siblings - it's not just the pooling of financial support, the emotional support we give each other can be even more important!

      It can be rather ironic. If we choose to have one child, we better make sure we are financially secure and not a future burden to this only child.

      I guess no one except CW is comfortable to talk about the elephant in the room - guilt.

      Guilt factors a lot in the financial decisions we make with regard to medical insurance...

      We feel guilty for not taking better care of our health and bodies, so we "reward" ourselves...

      We feel guilty not being there for our loves ones, so we "compensate"...

  9. My B-I-L who has 3rd or 4th stage cancer of the colon has been treated for about 3 to 4 years already.
    He got 1st class treatment at MT. E.
    The bill for the treatment has added up to 300k or more.
    He is very fortunate because after his normal health insurance expired at the age of 55 or 60, his insurance agent recommended him to buy this new IP as a follow-up to cover up or rather replace the expired IP.
    Being a jolly good fellow, he just complied without knowing what he is buying.
    After only a few months, he was diagnosed with colon cancer of the 3rd to 4th stage.
    It was really very fortunate for him to just buy the new IP without questioning his insurance agent.
    This IP even his cancer doctor never heard of it.
    I wonder anyone of you comes to know about it.
    As long as you pay the annual premium (till you die), you are covered for cancer treatment for life and hospitalization.
    So i ask him, if he knows he has to pay for life (maybe another 20 to 25 years), will he buy the IP.?
    I think he has to pay about 2300 to 2500/year for life?
    Medisave can use up to 800 only.

    i think i will but at my age it maybe 5000 or more per year.
    i think his insurance is Prudential.
    i still wonder whether i should buy if still available even at my age.

    Now his daughter about 30 + has bought this IP too.

  10. NB:-
    i have not confirmed the IP but just take my B-I-L's words.
    Anyone like to confirm there is such IP from Prudential or another Insurance Co.?

    1. temperament,

      You used the word "fortunate" on your brother-in-law. I don't think he shares your sentiments....

      Again, if can afford, who doesn't want the best?

      The fact remains more than half who bought IPs that entitled them to private hospital stays chose to get treatment at a public hospital instead.

      That's for readers to figure WHY?

      Especially when the reasons for buying "first class" IPs are so compelling... WHY "voluntarily" turn them down when you have already PAID in ADVANCE?


      You can of course afford the $5,000 premium per year.

      Now imagine you belong to the majority of ITE graduates, and your CPF savings cannot afford this $5,000 per year premium.

      After hearing your brother-in-law's story, would you "guilt" your son to pay the premiums on your behalf?

      How about your wife then?

      You get the picture.

      What do you think those with more modest means will feel when reading "stories" like your brother-in-law?

      We pay our own way.

      As for whether we get sick or remain in good health, those who are religious leave it to God.

      For atheists and agnostics, we leave it to happenstance.

  11. My main point is not about affordability of the IP.
    My main point is, really is there such an IP?
    As long as you pay your premium, you are covered for life even for cancer treatment.

    1. temperament,

      It's true. Prudential PRUshield A Premier and A Plus policy does cover for LIFE.

      For details, just visit Prudential or google under Medisave approved insurance.


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