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Changes in S'pore health insurance plans: What you should know

SINGAPORE - Nothing is certain but death and taxes, so the saying goes. But as people are living longer, chronic illnesses and diseases related to ageing are, and will be, cropping up more and more.
Asia One - July 31, 2013
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Changes in S'pore health insurance plans: What you should know

Unless one is very lucky and takes great care to stay in top physical shape all the time, chances are that as one ages, one's health will deteriorate.

One in three of those aged 60 and above are diabetic. One in five adults have hypertension, and for those aged above 60, the figure is one in two.

Cancer statistics are also sobering. There were 8,000 new breast cancer cases over a five-year period from 2007 to 2011. For colon cancer, there were 8,400 new cases over the same period.

Just one serious health issue, say, cancer, can wipe out years of savings. Chronic illnesses can chip away at life savings too.

And what about accidents? The weeks and months spent recovering from broken bones or more serious injuries can also wipe out hard-earned savings.

What about the possible cost to one's health? A study published in 2007 in the Journal Of The American Medical Association found that after experiencing a health shock, those who were uninsured were less likely to get any medical care.

Those who suffered an unintentional injury were 53 per cent less likely; those with a new chronic condition were 55 per cent less likely to get any medical care.

As many financial advice columns have said before, it is never too early to get health insurance.

The issue is what type of health insurance can you afford, be it private, A-, B- or C-class care. At the very least, do not opt out of MediShield. It pays to be covered for your health.

New changes

Recent upgrades made to the national insurance scheme MediShield led to the five approved providers of Integrated Shield plans coming up with revisions to their own schemes.

While the changes leave consumers with no choice but to pay the higher premiums, they also bring better coverage, albeit slight in some cases.

This is welcome news, especially as health insurance is a clear necessity here.

Without an insurance plan, you could be relying on yourself or your Medisave funds - essentially your own money - to pay for any hospitalisation expenses and that is very risky.

The cash in your Medisave account can run out very quickly when you stop working.

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