The universal healthcare scheme, MediShield Life, is due to kick in at the end of this year. Ahead of that, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is firming up details for Singaporeans on their premium subsidies.
In the first two weeks of May, the Health Ministry will send customised letters to households across Singapore. Delivery of letters will start on Apr 30. By May 12, 1.2 million households would have received their letters.
About 60 per cent of these households will receive a letter which indicates a deadline to check their household information. The remaining 40 percent will not need to check because the Government already has their updated information as they may have applied for a healthcare subsidy scheme like the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), or, the household is not eligible for premium subsidies.
The premium subsidies apply to the lower- to middle-income groups. Those who qualify must be a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident living in an HDB flat or in private housing with an annual value of below S$21,000. The monthly household income per person must be S$2,600 and below, and residents cannot own multiple properties.
HOW TO UPDATE YOUR HOUSEHOLD INFO
For those who are required to update their household composition, there are three options available. They can go online, through the MediShield Life Household Information e-service; call a MediShield Life hotline number at 1800-222-3399 from Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am to 530pm; or visit a service counter.These counters will be at all 58 SingPost offices, selected Community Centres and the IRAS service centre.
Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor, said that manpower capacity has been beefed up to cater to these services.
When checking their information online, visitors can log on with their SingPass or the reference number listed in their letter. They can then request to add or remove a household member before confirming their household information.
Household members can only be related by blood, marriage or legal adoption. They must also be living at the same residential address. This excludes tenants, domestic helpers and friends.
Individuals can also opt out of the household check exercise if they do not want the Health Ministry to access their financial information. But the individual and his household members will not receive the premium subsidies if they opt out. They, will however, continue to receive Transitional Subsidies and Pioneer Generation subsidies if applicable. Individuals can opt out online, via the hotline, or at the physical service counter.
After receiving their letters, households will have around five weeks to respond.
HOUSEHOLD CHECK EXERCISE IS A 'MILESTONE': DR KHOR
"This household check exercise is really an important milestone, it's a key component of our MediShield Life implementation process," said Dr Khor. "In fact, it is actually the first time that the Government is adopting this approach of facilitated eligibility checks.
"And by that we mean actually using information data that is currently residing in our Government database to determine the eligibility of the household for subsidies. And the reason why we are doing this is so that they do not have to apply for the subsidies."
If the household misses the deadline, it will still be eligible for subsidies, which will be computed based on the latest information in government records. They can call the MediShield Life hotline number if they feel their information needs to be updated.
The subsidy eligibility will be valid for two years. Reassessments will automatically occur when there are changes to household information.
These include a newborn, a new Singapore Citizen or PR joining the household or a renewed status under other household-based healthcare subsidy schemes such as CHAS, Specialist Outpatient Clinic (SOC) subsidies, and specific Intermediate and Long Term Care (ILTC) schemes.
Prior to the expiry of the resident's subsidy eligibility, MOH will contact their household to complete the household check to ensure that household members receive the correct MediShield Life Premium Subsidies.
"We can also review the eligibility of the household composition, just before the renewal of the premium is up," said Dr Khor. "So at that point when (a person) is in an HDB flat, he would maybe be eligible for the subsidies but later on if he upgrades to a private property beyond S$21,000, then the next assessment will have to update the status and review the eligibility status.
The public will be able to check their MediShield Life premiums and subsidies online in end-2015.
The Health Ministry has also been intensifying engagement efforts on the ground to raise public awareness about the household check exercise, and the steps that need to be taken. It is working with the People's Association to put up posters about the checks under HDB blocks, as well as to conduct briefing sessions with grassroots leaders, social service officers and voluntary welfare organisations.