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MediShield Life to provide insurance cover for HIV +ve Singaporeans

The much anticipated MediShield Life will kick in at the end of this year.

It is promised to cover “pre-existing” illnesses which immediately begged the question “will it cover people living with HIV?”

This is a very fair question given the health insurance climate faced by HIV +ve people in Singapore. In a nutshell, there is no insurance policy that provides coverage for a non-occupational HIV infection and most insurance policies actually have a clause that they will become void if a person becomes infected with HIV.

Speech by Dr Lam Pin Min, Minister of State for Health, on the MediShield Life Scheme Bill, on 29 January 2015: on whether HIV/AIDs patients will be covered under MediShield Life, these patients will be covered under MediShield Life, subject to the MediShield Life benefit coverage for hospitalisation and selected outpatient treatments. As with other serious pre-existing conditions, those who were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS prior to the start of their insurance coverage will have to pay Additional Premiums.

So it came as a very welcome relief when it was confirmed that MediShield Life in fact will provide insurance coverage for people living with HIV. In fact, it will provide insurance coverage for the actual treatment and management of their HIV infection.

The only catch to all of this is people living with HIV, just like any other person with a pre-existing health condition, must pay an additional 30% premium for 10 years. But ONLY for 10 years. After which, they continue to pay the same premium as everyone else in their age group.

This is true universal health coverage for all Singaporeans and we should applaud the government for it. This is also a giant leap towards recognizing HIV as a chronic illness and hopefully reducing the social stigma associated with the disease. In the long run, we hope this leads to more people coming forward for testing and therefore, more people getting onto treatment early.

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