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Oral Answer by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on portable medical benefits

Notice paper no. 364 of 2016 for the sitting on 07 November 2016

Question No. 621 for oral answer

MP: Ms K Thanaletchimi

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) to date, how many companies have implemented portable medical benefits for their employees; (b) how can it be made more pervasive and attractive for both employers and employee to support such initiatives; (c) apart from contributing to Medisave, whether portability of medical benefits can be in the form of reimbursements to employees for the premium that they pay for standard medical insurance.

Notice paper no. 428 of 2016 for the sitting on 07 November 2016

Question no. 736 for oral answer

MP: Mr Ong Teng Koon

To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether the tripartite work group has been successful in encouraging employers and employees to shift to portable medical benefits; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider legislation to mandate that corporate outpatient medical insurance plans become portable in order to protect employees who may be unable to qualify for a subsequent insurance plan due to pre-existing conditions.

Answer
  1. Madam Speaker, may I have your permission to take questions 621 and 736 together. 
  2. At the national level, the Government ensures that Singaporean workers have portable medical benefits through mandatory Medisave contributions by employers and employees. At the company level, more than 90% of employers provide additional medical benefits. Among them, some employers provide portable medical benefits on a voluntary basis. However, the take-up rate has not been high. Our last survey in 2013 showed that about 4% of companies employing about 20% of our local workers do so. These companies may enjoy higher tax deductions for their medical expenses if they meet the qualifying conditions.
  3. With the introduction of MediShield Life in 2015, all Singaporeans now have portable medical insurance. Tripartite partners are promoting MediShield Life as the platform for voluntary portable benefits. MediShield Life is universal and employees can use Medisave contribution to pay for premiums for MediShield Life, as well as Integrated Shield Plans which build on top of MediShield Life. With MediShield Life, all our local workers can be assured that their medical coverage, including for pre-existing illnesses, would follow them regardless of any change in employment status or employer. More importantly, the annual claim limit has been raised significantly, and the lifetime claim limit has been removed.
  4. Our focus going forward is to encourage employers to shift from providing non-portable medical benefits, such as Group Hospital and Surgical (GHS) insurance, to making additional contributions to employees’ Medisave accounts. The tripartite partners have, for a start, included this recommendation in the Tripartite Guidelines on the Re-employment of Older Employees released in May 2016. We will continue to encourage more employers to shift towards offering voluntary portable medical benefits which leverage on MediShield Life.
Last Updated: 08 November 2016