We might require long-term care at some point in our lives. It’s hard to predict when or for how long you’ll need it. An accident or a serious illness such as a heart attack or a stroke could lead to severe disability needing long-term care. The question is: Are you financially prepared for it?
To ensure that everyone has access to basic financial support for long-term care needs, the government introduced CareShield Life1—a national long-term care insurance scheme—on 1 October 2020. Without further ado, let us answer the questions you may have about the CareShield Life scheme.
1. What’s CareShield Life?
CareShield Life is a national long-term care insurance scheme that offers monthly payouts over a lifetime as long as the claimant remains severely disabled, and requires a prolonged duration of personal and medical care.
2. Who’s eligible for CareShield Life?
- Singapore citizens or permanent residents born in 1980 or later
- If you’re born between 1980 to 1990 (aged 30 to 40 in 2020), you’ll be automatically enrolled into CareShield Life starting 1 October 2020 or when you turn 30, whichever is later.
- If you’re born after 1990 (aged below 30 in 2020), you’ll be automatically enrolled into CareShield Life upon turning 30.
- Singapore citizens or permanent residents born in 1979 or earlier
- For those born between 1970 and 1979 and insured under ElderShield 400, you'll be automatically enrolled into CareShield Life at the end of 2021 as long as you’re not severely disabled.
3. I’m disabled. Am I eligible for CareShield Life?
For those with pre-existing medical conditions and disabilities, you’ll still be able to enjoy the benefits of CareShield Life as long as you’re a Singapore citizen, or a permanent resident born in 1980 or later.
4. I’m an ElderShield policyholder. Am I eligible for CareShield Life?
If you’re under the existing ElderShield scheme and born between 1970 and 1979, you’ll be automatically enrolled from the end of 2021 as long as you’re not severely disabled. Keep in mind that if you’re under the ElderShield 300 scheme, you’ll need to top up your premiums if you choose to switch to CareShield Life.
If you’re under the existing ElderShield scheme and have not been automatically enrolled into CareShield Life at the end of 2021, you may apply to join the CareShield Life scheme at the end of 2021 as long as you’re not severely disabled.
5. What’s the difference between MediShield Life and CareShield Life?
If you’re like most people, you’re probably wondering how CareShield Life is different from MediSave and MediShield Life. Let us break it down for you.
CareShield Life is an upgraded version of the ElderShield scheme that provides monthly cash payouts in case of severe disability. The payout is to financially support you for your long-term care needs such as employing a caregiver or paying for daily-living aids.
MediShield Life, which is also a mandatory scheme, insures you for hospitalisation expenses and selected outpatient treatments.
Both MediShield Life and CareShield Life premiums for you and your family members are fully payable by MediSave. If you have insufficient savings in your MediSave Account, you can make a top-up via CPF e-Cashier (select “Contribute to My MediSave”).
6. How does CareShield Life work?
- Coverage: The good news is that the CareShield Life scheme covers you for life and the payout increases annually until age 67 or when a successful claim is made, whichever earlier.
- Premium: Upon enrolment, you’ll be required to pay an annual premium using your MediSave account until the year you turn 67. The premiums for 30-year-olds start at S$206 (for men) and S$253 (for women) in 2020. The premium amount will increase over time to support payouts that will also increase over time. From 2020 to 2025, premiums will increase by 2% annually, after which adjustments to the rate of increase will be recommended by an independent CareShield Life Council based on claims experience, changes in life expectancy and disability trends. You can use the online CareShield Life premium calculator by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to find out the estimated premium amount you'll have to pay depending on your circumstances.
- Payout: CareShield Life claims will be paid out in the event of severe disability, which is diagnosed as the inability to perform at least three of the six Activities of Daily Living (ADL). The amount of payout will increase annually, starting with S$600 per month in 2020, until age 67 or when a successful claim is made, whichever is earlier. From 2020 to 2025, payouts will increase at 2% per year. Thereafter, the rate of payout increases and corresponding premium adjustments will be recommended by an independent CareShield Life Council. If you become severely disabled after the age of 67, your payout amount will be pegged to the year you turn 67.
7. What’s considered severe disability?
Severe disability is determined by the inability to perform three of the six Activities of Daily Living (ADL)—washing, dressing, feeding, toileting, walking or moving around and transferring.
You’ll need to arrange for a disability assessment to certify your severe disability status by an MOH-accredited severe disability assessor, which is free for the first time. Click here to find out more about CareShield Life claim procedures and the list of MOH-accredited severe disability assessors.
8. What if I’m unable to pay for my CareShield Life premiums due to financial difficulties?
For those who are unable to afford their premiums due to financial difficulties, the Government offers premium subsidies and support measures. An Additional Premium Support may also be offered to those who cannot afford to pay even after subsidies and support measures.
9. What will happen when I relocate to another country?
Singapore citizens who are living abroad—either temporarily or permanently—will still be able to enjoy the benefits of CareShield Life as long as the premiums are paid.
10. Can I enhance my CareShield Life coverage? How?
Although CareShield Life provides you with basic financial support for long-term care, there’re a lot of—one-off and recurring—long-term care expenses you need to factor. For example, a caregiver, daily-living activity aids, rehabilitation therapy, special diet and medication.
According to a Long-term Care Study done in 2018, the average cost of long-term care is S$2,324 per month2.
Elderly healthcare costs in Singapore are expected to rise over the next 15 years based on a study published in 2016. Therefore, having adequate long-term care coverage for yourself and your loved ones will help to ease the financial burden if any of you become severely disabled.
Many of us think of disability as something that will only develop when we’re older. While we can try to lead a healthier lifestyle to minimise the risk of severe disability due to illnesses, we can’t prevent accidents from happening. It’s important to get long-term care protection when you’re young and healthy so there will be little or no coverage exclusions.
For greater assurance, there are a few appointed private insurers in Singapore that offer supplementary plans for CareShield Life. For example, Singlife CareShield Standard and CareShield Plus provides greater coverage and additional benefits such as Caregiver Relief Benefit and a premium waiver when you’re unable to perform at least 1 ADL.
2. Singlife with Aviva’s Long-term Care Study 2018
As of 1 January 2022, Aviva Singapore is now Singlife with Aviva.