What does Integrated Shield plan cover?
In Singapore the basic insurance for health is covered by the Medishield Scheme, CPF. The private Integrated Shield plans offer better coverage and are offered by only private insurers. Medishield is a basic plan which is designed to help with hospitalization bills and also specific outpatient treatments at medical institutions which have been pre-approved. This tends to target the C and the B2 wards and also provide treatment in a subsidized manner in public hospitals. Medishield is a compulsory insurance scheme which covers the permanent citizens besides the Singaporeans for life. For better options of treatment in private hospitals you need to upgrade to the Integrated Shield plan offered by private insurers.
Factors to consider:
Before upgrading the existing Medishield cover to an Integrated Shield plan it is important that specific factors are taken into consideration.
- Preference of Treatments:
As mentioned, MediShield helps with the basic hospital bills of the B2 and C wards at the public hospitals. The ward room is shared by almost 8 patients and there is no provision of any television. These wards do not have any air-conditioning. You rely on natural ventilation. A team of doctors take care of the patients. Opting for the Integrated Shield plan you can recuperate in a private hospital in ward A/B1 class with fewer patients. You are comfortable with the air-conditioning provided. You are looked after specific individual doctors.
There is a difference between A/B1 and the B2/C wards. You can opt for the B2/C wards if you are comfortable sharing the ward with other patients and without a television. If not, you can opt for the Integrated Shield plan at your earliest.
- Future and Current Budget:
You need to be aware that the premiums of integrated shield plan tend to increase with age. Thus, it is important you take the current and the future budget before you make a choice of these plans. This rise in the premiums is in no way a small amount. You need to do a complete research of the different companies offering the integrated shield plan before you opt for a specific one. You can also check on the website of the Minsitry of Health for any information on this integrated shield plan.
This rise in the premium is steep after the age of 40 years. The rise depends on the insurance company. How you make arrangement for the payments in the future is definitely important as there are limited options if you intend withdrawing from the MediShield.
- Size of the Hospital Bill:
The knowledge of the coverage is important but at the same time, you need to have knowledge of the average size of the bill across different wards and hospitals as the bill size is different in different hospitals to ensure you make an informed decision on the integrated shield plan.
Add-ons for enhancing the existing coverage of the Integrated Shield Plan are termed as ‘riders’. These can reduce the portion of co-insurance and also the deductibles. You also have the option of claiming cash-benefits on a daily basis with the riders. You can opt for a ward which is lower than the one you are entitled and also opt for specific riders which offer the cash benefits daily.
- Pro-ration Factor:
This is one factor which requires careful consideration. With the integrated shield plan, if you opt for a higher-class ward than what you are entitled to, the factor of pro-ration is applied. This tends to reduce the amount which can be claimed.
- Renewal of Integrated Shield Plan:
The integrated shield plan chosen is renewable guaranteed. You need to be aware that the premiums are not and can increase at the time of the renewal. This depends on the experience of the claims. Premium rates also tend to rise with age.
- Pre-existing Conditions:
Conditions you are suffering from before you apply for a specific integrated shield plan is termed as ‘the pre-existing condition’. This condition is normally not covered by most integrated shield plans. It is, thus, important to opt for a plan when the health is good.
Any pre-existing condition needs to be disclosed at the time of applying for any integrated shield plan. There are chances of the policy getting void if there is any type of misrepresentation or failure to disclose facts. There are specific plans which include the pre-existing conditions with a waiting period of almost 5 years. The insured individual does not experience any of the specific symptoms and does not get treated for that condition.
- Plan Switching:
Before switching over to a new integrated shield plan ensure you do not cancel the existing plan. You need to be aware of the benefits and the costs of the new plan before you decide on cancelling the existing one. You also need to find out if the insurer you want to switch to impose any exclusion based on the conditions which are exist.
- When Hospitalized:
The insurer of a specific integrated shield plan can provide a guarantee letter to the chosen hospital. This assures the hospital of the payment of the specific portion of the charges which is covered by the insurance company. This can reduce the amount to be paid upfront to the hospital.
This amount specified by the insurer is not always sufficient for the hospital bill. You can ask the hospital for the estimated charges to plan out better and can also inquire from the insurer the basis of the amount specified in the guarantee letter.
Different Types of Integrated shield Plans:
Opting for an integrated shield plan you need to be aware that these are of three different types.
*Class A Plans:
This Class A plan provides the required coverage for the holders of a policy for wards of class A at any public hospital. The benefits offered are different with different insurers.
* Standard Integrated Shield Plan:
The Standard IP provides the required coverage for those policy holders for the public hospitals with the B1 wards. The benefits offered by this integrated shield plan are the same with any insurer.
* Private Hospital Plans:
These plans provide coverage for the holders of the policy for private hospitals. The benefits are different with different insurers.
Coverage by the Integrated Shield Plan:
As mentioned, the benefits of the Standard integrated Shield Plan are the same with all insurers. Listed below are few of the benefits with the integrated shield plans.
*Day Surgery and Inpatient: This includes the cost of surgery and also the cost of daily treatment at the ward.
*Outpatient treatment: This includes the cost of kidney dialysis, chemotherapy and other cancer treatment.
*Pre and Post hospital Treatment: This includes to any costs which have been incurred after or even before the hospital stay.
Comparing the services offered by Insurers:
You need to compare the services offered by different insurers to ensure you are benefitted to the maximum.
- Duration of processing the Claim:
The return rate table of the claims is updated on a regular basis by the Ministry of Health. This gives a clear picture of the time taken by each of the insurer to process the claims of the IP (Integrated Shield Plan) with payouts which are on the positive side.
With the modern integration and technology most of the insurers are able to settle the specific claim within a day. It is important that the hospital be notified of you having the integrated shield plan before registration.
- Coast of Medical Records and the Guarantee letter:
The letter of guarantee offered by the insurer to the hospital can reduce the upfront costs of the hospital bills. This letter assures the hospital of the payment by the insurer for a part of the hospital bill.
There are chances that the insurer might ask for the medical records for processing a claim. This request of the medical records can be made either by the claimant or the insurer from the chosen hospital. This request incurs some costs.
Reasons for opting for the Integrated Shield Plan:
At present you have almost 6 out of every 10 on MediShield Life opting for the Integrated Shield Plan.
Listed below are some of the benefits offered by this plan.
- The Integrated Shield Plan can provide more coverage and benefits:
There are chances of every cent of the hospital bill being covered by the integrated shield plan. You can also look forward to the post and pre-hospitalization bills being covered by this integrated shield plan.
- Rising Inflation:
With the ever-rising inflation you find the charges of most medical treatments reaching new heights. This is one place where you cannot think of making any compromises. With the integrated shield plan opted for you are relaxed knowing that in any future medical emergency your requirements are catered to.
- Future Risks:
In case you are already suffering from diabetes or any other such disease there is no way you can be free of medical bills. Some of major critical illnesses are cancer, stroke, heart attack, kidney failure, by-pass surgery, and liver failure end-stage and lung disease end stage. All these illnesses are unpredictable and thus better to be safe than be sorry. Getting prepared for the unpredictability of life can help you ease off your tensions.
- Waiting Time:
Sans the integrated shield plan there is a long waiting time for the B2/C wards which are subsidized. This is because this caters to the masses. There are limited doctors and also beds which can fill in the requirement. This long-waiting time can be expected for surgeries, appointments, beds and A&E. This is definitely considered risky as there are certain illnesses which cannot wait and need immediate attention.
- Emergencies do not wait:
There might be instances when you cannot afford to opt for public hospitals and have to opt for the private hospitals. There are times when there are no beds available and you opt for a private hospital. Opting for the integrated shield plan helps you cope up with the many emergencies without any hassles.
You need to understand that it is wiser paying a wee bit more for the integrated shield plan rather than paying the huge hospital bills. Most of the patients with this integrated shield plan are comfortable as they know that the hospital and medical bills can be covered totally or probably partially with this coverage. With this coverage you can plan on getting the best medical treatment available.
Integrated shield plans are apt for most and not opting for these can be a grave mistake. You need to seek the help of a financial advisor to help you choose an apt plan which is comfortable and caters to your requirement in an apt manner. Before opting for an insurer, go through the pros and cons of the terms and conditions for the integrated shield plan.