As of 1st May 2020, the premiums for Enhanced IncomeShield’s Plus and Assist Riders have increased again. This follows price hikes in 2018 and 2016, and seems like a biennial pattern now.
This time, only Assist and Plus riders are affected by the premium hike, while Enhanced IncomeShield, and the newer Deluxe and Classic Care Riders are unchanged, possibly in a bid to push existing policyholders towards the newer plans.
The premium increases range from 15% to a staggering 65% for the riders of Preferred (private hospitalisation coverage) plans, and between 5% to 30% for riders of Advantage (A ward restructured hospitalisation coverage).
My current plan
I’m on Preferred Plan with Assist Rider, and the old annual premium is $375 for Preferred Plan and $341 for Assist Rider (new premium: $409).
Comparatively, Plus Rider is $727, and the new premium is an exorbitant $981.
I have always been against 100% coverage riders like Plus Rider, so I opted for Assist Rider instead. My maximum co-payment per policy year is $3,000, which means that’s my maximum risk within a year. Paying an additional $400 to $600 every year hardly seems wise to hedge against a risk that is at worst $3,000 in a year, assuming I even get hospitalised at all.
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Maintaining at Preferred + Assist Rider seems quite untenable for me. Together with Medisave Life premiums of $310, it’s a cool total of $1,094 (of which $610 is payable by Medisave), and the premiums are just going to rise with my age and medical inflation.
The dilemma I have is whether to maintain private hospitalisation coverage and drop to classic rider, or drop my ward eligibility entirely to just restructured hospitals.
Private vs Restructured
A longstanding debate is whether private hospitalisation coverage is necessary. It’s not uncommon to hear of long wait times at public hospitals.
To pay almost double the premium annually, however, to have better wait times in the unlikely scenario that I’d be hospitalised seems really spend-thrifty.
Unfortunately – actually, rather fortunately – I don’t have personal experience whether private hospitals have a much better quality of care compared to restructured hospitals, and I can only rely on anecdotal accounts from friends who have been hospitalised before that our public healthcare level isn’t too shabby.
And even with private hospitalisation coverage, I’d choose to go to a restructured hospital out of prudence on the off chance the expenses are somehow not claimable.
Private hospitalisation and its coverage seem like luxuries that lower SES people can do without. Seems pretty straightforward that I’ll downgrade.
Limited: Get 1.8% p.a. on your savings
Classic vs Assist Rider
I can opt for further cost savings by going for the Classic Rider. For people who purchase Assist Rider after 7th March 2018, you’d be transited to the new Classic or Deluxe Care Riders.
There are two considerations to picking Deluxe/Classic Rider:
The first is that there’d be no cap to the co-payment if one seeks treatment from practitioners that are not on NTUC Income’s selected panel. This affects private specialists since all government hospitals are included in their panel.
If I were to downgrade to Advantage plan, this wouldn’t be too much of an issue since one isn’t likely to go for private specialists under Advantage plan which is designed for up to A ward hospitalisation. Nonetheless, Assist Rider will still provide better coverage if one seeks treatment from a non-panel specialist because Assist Rider caps the co-payment while Classic Care Rider will not.
Hospital cash benefit
Assist Rider also gives some cash per day of hospitalisation if the policyholder chooses a ward below his maximum eligibility (B1 and below for Advantage). Hospital cash plans typically cost $100 to $200 per year (albeit with a few more bells and whistles), so paying the slightly higher premium of Assist Rider compared to Classic Care Rider is a pretty good deal.
Looks like I’m going to downgrade from Preferred + Assist ($784) to Advantage + Assist ($240). That’s more than $500 in premium savings a year, and that figure is just going to grow with each passing year.
Have you reviewed your hospitalisation plans? Let me know if you have decided to downgrade or maintain your plan.
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