SINGAPORE: To better protect employers from having to bear large unexpected medical bills incurred by their migrant workers, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will enhance the coverage of the mandatory medical insurance (MI) for Work Permit (including Migrant Domestic Workers) and S Pass holders. The new requirements will come into effect by the end of 2022 and will apply to all new Work Permit and S Pass applications and renewals. More details will be shared in due course.
The Medical Insurance Enhanced Coverage will Comprise the Following Features:
- Introduction of a co-payment element for employers and insurers for amounts above $15,000, up to an annual claim limit of at least $60,000. Employers will continue to be fully insured (first dollar coverage) for the medical expenses of their Work Permits and S Pass holders up to $15,000. While this ensures protection for the bulk of workers’ medical bills, there remains an average of over 1,000 employers1 per year who face bills that are larger than $15,000. With higher coverage, insurers will also co-pay 75% for amounts above $15,000, up to an annual claim limit of at least $60,000. The increased annual claim limit will cover more than 99% of Work Permit and S Pass holders’ inpatient and day surgery bills. See Annex A for some illustrations.
- Standardisation of allowable exclusion clauses. This provides employers and workers with greater clarity on their coverage and the types of claims they are eligible for. The list of allowable exclusions can be found in Annex B.
- Introduction of age-differentiated premiums. Insurers who sell MI products will have to offer differentiated premiums for those aged 50 and below, and those who are above 50 years old. This is to keep premiums affordable as the large majority of our migrant workforce are aged 50 years and below.
- Requirement for insurers to reimburse hospitals directly upon the admissibility of the claim. Employers will not need to pay for their workers’ hospital bills upfront before seeking reimbursement from their insurers. This will help free up cash flow for households and businesses, especially for employers who may be cash-strapped.
With the enhanced MI coverage, employers will be better supported in managing the financial risks of larger medical bills. The enhancements have also been carefully calibrated to balance the sustainability of coverage against the longer-term cost of premiums. As many insurers have expressed interest to offer MI products with the enhanced coverage, we expect the MI premiums to be competitively priced. MOM will monitor the insurance premium to ensure that it remains affordable for employers, and work in partnership with insurance associations to ensure smooth implementation of the enhanced MI model.
In his speech at the Committee of Supply Debate 2022, Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State for Manpower thanked employers, industry associations and Non-Governmental Organisations who have expressed their support for the enhanced medical insurance scheme during MOM’s engagement with them.
Mr Sim Gim Guan, Executive Director, Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) said: “The enhancement of the mandatory medical insurance will help employers manage instances when they are facing large out-of-pocket medical bills. With a larger risk-pool, the increase in insurance premium, with the higher coverage, will be mitigated.”
Mr Alan Tan, Vice President (International Relations), Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) added: “The enhancements to Work Permit and S Pass Holders’ medical insurance are an improvement to the primary healthcare ecosystem for foreign workers. It helps to ease the burden of exorbitant medical bills on employers. For the foreign workers, healthcare would be more accessible and affordable.”
In addition, Mr Ho Kai Weng, Chief Executive, General Insurance Association of Singapore (GIA), said: “The increased protection will help to protect more employers of migrant workers from large medical bills, and reduce instances of them raising funds by other ways such as crowdfunding. GIA will work with MOM and our members to implement the new policy and have suitable products ready before the end of 2022.”