Growing up, most of us would have been dependent on our parents for the everyday living costs. They provided us with all that we wanted and much more – shelter, food, clothes and education. They also handled our financial and healthcare needs. And they afforded us entertainment and privileges they often denied themselves. They were our heroes who cared for us and whom we assume can invariably take care of themselves.
We forget our parents get older and frailer and actually require our help. In the end may make an effort to be filial once we love our parents, have any people realistically considered the eventuality of a role reversal – that our parents’ living and healthcare needs may one day be our responsibility?
If we consider it, it is logical that their healthcare needs matter to us. If they should get sick, the onus would be on us, their children, not only to provide physical support and affection, but also to take up the financial responsibility of coughing up for their hospital bills.
This is why it is in our interest to make sure that our parents' healthcare requirements are taken care of today.
How Are we able to Help Our Parents?
The very first thing we can do is to have a conversation with them about the current status of their healthcare coverage and also to comprehend the medical health insurance policies they own. Don't be surprised if you discover out that your parents might not be as well protected while you think.
One of our writers recently initiated such a conversation with his mom. Initially, his mom assured him that they already had insurance policy, but of what sort, she wasn’t exactly certain of the facts.
Upon further probing, our writer found out that his mom only had one life insurance policy (which was bought more than 3 decades ago) and no medical health insurance policies, aside from that which was supplied by her company and MediShield Life. This came as a surprise to the writer since we always assume as children our parents, having taken such proper us, would naturally have taken proper care of their very own needs too.
If your folks aren't sure about what they're actually covered for, ask them to seek advice from their financial adviser. Better yet; go with your parents to meet the financial adviser. The majority of us today should be more financially savvy than our parents, and we need to aid them in ensuring they are adequately covered.
When you're looking into the insurance policy they've, be sure to also understand when the insurance policies they hold contain any exclusions or any other conditions. This may be nothing or maybe it's a big issue in the future.
In Singapore, all Citizens and Permanent Residents are automatically covered under MediShield Life. If you (or perhaps your parents) don't already know, MediShield Life is a fundamental medical health insurance plan that helps cover large hospital bills and selected costly outpatient treatments, for example dialysis and chemotherapy. MediShield Life includes even individuals with pre-existing conditions.
To keep premiums affordable for those, coverage provided by MediShield Every day life is pegged to some level so that a substantial part of Class B2/C wards bills could be covered.
That being said, your parents can continue to opt for hospitalisation at a higher-class ward or at a private hospital. In such instances, MediShield Life covers an inferior proportion from the bill.
Integrated Shield Plans
To increase coverage beyond Class B2/C wards, it's possible to purchase additional insurance policy by means of a built-in Shield Plan (IP). These plans are provided by private insurers and canopy additional costs of hospitalisation and treatments at higher ward classes in public hospitals (e.g. Class B1 and A wards) and even nursing homes.
Additionally, a typical IP was introduced earlier this year which provides coverage for treatment at Class B1 wards in a lower premium.
A common misconception is that people sometimes think IP coverage replaces their MediShield Life plan. This isn't true. IP coverage is an additional private insurance coverage that is along with MediShield Life. There is no duplication of coverage.
How Should You and Your Parents Decide Which Plan to Go for?
When you are looking at deciding on hospitalisation plans for the parents, we should not apply the same way of thinking we used to decide upon your own coverage. Instead, we have to take into consideration their specific needs and affordability at their age.
The reason is simple; the cost of hospitalisation plans supplied by insurance providers increase significantly as people get older, plus they increase significantly for IPs.
For example, a young adult below the age of 30 may pay under $400 every year to have an IP that provides maximum coverage at nursing homes or Class-A wards. Match it up as to the a 75-year-old today would have to pay – which could be easily more than $3,000 annually for the similar coverage.
You also needs to pay attention to the following when discussing the kinds of IPs your folks can opt for.
#1 Quality Of Coverage Vs Affordability
Everyone wants the very best. Cost notwithstanding, we would prefer the undivided attention and services of the greatest doctors and nurses in the preferred hospital suites.
But we have to be realistic. We reside in a world where these things cost serious money. And like anything else in everyday life, we need to weigh the price of the things we would like against how much we have to purchase them. It is no different for healthcare.
Healthcare costs money and so perform the insurance policies that offer for them. For example, today, an IP for private hospitals could cost as many as $3,484 each year for any 75-year-old as compared to $1,645 for the standard IP.
You can make reference to this table for that comparison of Integrated Shield Plans across various insurance companies.
#2 Just how much Do you need From Your Medisave?
Singaporeans may use their Medisave to completely cover their MediShield Life premiums. That means no cash outlay is required for MediShield Life, so long as you have sufficient money in your Medisave.
If your parents opt for additional coverage on top of MediShield Life by buying an IP, they can also employ their Medisave to assist pay for the premiums, as much as the bounds allowed. The table below shows how much may be used from Medisave each year to cover the additional coverage portion of IPs.
|Age||Additional Withdrawal Limits (AWLs) for additional private insurance element of IP premiums
|1 – 40||$300|
|41 – 70||$600|
|71 & Above||$900|
# 3 You may still Choose Higher Class Wards Even when Your Insurance plan Doesn't Specifically Cover It
When it comes to healthcare, a common thought process is always to select the right plan that you could afford, and to then have the highest degree of treatment that the plan provides for thereafter.
There is nothing wrong with this style of thinking. But here's another alternative that you as well as your parents can consider.
Instead of choosing plans that offer the greatest coverage which may easily cost you a few thousand dollars every year, why not consider choosing a less expensive plan (e.g. Standard Integrated Shield Plan), and save about $1,500 every year in premiums (in line with the example we used of the 75-year-old).
Over a 5-year period, you would have saved about $7,500. If the have to be hospitalised occur, your folks can still choose from Class B1 ward, which would be comfortably taught in insurance company, or perhaps a Class A ward inside a public hospital or perhaps a private hospital.
For the last two options, the balance would be higher and you would need to pay more as a patient since insurance coverage is sized at B1 level. But this can be paid for in the premiums that you'd have saved. Both you and your parents have an option.
#4 Don't Ignore Healthcare Needs
Helping your folks provide for their healthcare needs via open conversations, sharing of knowledge and understanding their requirements are very practical methods for expressing our love.
Your conversation may also include other kinds of insurance plans that the parents might have bought. Don't delay having that conversation; it may be more essential than you think.
This article was written in collaboration with the CPF Board. All views expressed in the article would be the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg
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