Did you receive a letter in your mail with the word "ElderShield" on the envelope? Maybe it's your 40th birthday this year and you're wondering, "Hey! Why would someone like me need ElderShield? Should I stay in the scheme or opt out?"
Ok don't fret; we're here to tell you what it means and what you can do.
What is ElderShield?
ElderShield is a national insurance scheme which offers basic coverage to help pay for long-term care, if ever you become disabled. All Singaporeans and PRs with Medisave accounts are automatically covered when they turn 40 years old. You can choose to opt out if you wish.
But what does being disabled mean to you? In this case, it does not necessarily mean losing an arm or a leg.
ElderShield offers coverage as long as you can't perform three out of six "Activities of Daily Living" (ADL) such as feeding yourself, transferring (between bed to wheelchair) or toileting.
It's almost impossible to imagine yourself not being able to perform such basic activities. After all, these are probably things that you've been doing on your own for as long as you can remember.
But imagine if you've been struck by illness or accident. Stroke is the largest cause of long-term physical disability in Singapore¹. You may be wheelchair-bound and require help to use the toilet or shower. And as you get older, the chance of disability increases.
In such situations, it can mean a long recovery period even after you've been discharged from the hospital. You're probably not going to work but you'll still need cash to pay for the additional care you require, on top of your daily bills and expenses.
How can Eldershield help?
ElderShield's monthly payouts can help you with these costs. You'll get S$400 a month for up to six years (or S$300 a month for up to 5 years if you turned 40 before September 2007 and didn't upgrade your plan).
This is given to you in cash, so you can use it to fund whatever you need – be it a domestic helper, nursing home fees, mobility aids or home modification, or as an income replacement to pay for your day-to-day expenses.
You don't even need to get a medical check-up if you join under the auto-coverage arrangement (unless you have a pre-existing disability). If you opt out now and want to join later, you'll have to take a medical assessment and it will be subjected to approval by the insurer.
Should you upgrade your ElderShield plan?
So you've decided to stay covered by the ElderShield scheme. But there's all this talk about upgrading for more enhanced coverage. Here's what it means.
You may be wondering if the S$400 monthly payout will be enough to support you for what you need. If there's a gap between the S$400 and your monthly expenses, you'd need to dip into your savings.
And what if you don't have much in the bank? Hiring a domestic helper alone would probably already cost around S$600 a month. Your monthly payouts might not be enough to cover your expenditure – especially if you stop working and have no income.
Just like how you can enhance your basic MediShield Life cover with Integrated Shield plans, you can consider supplementing your basic ElderShield plan with ElderShield Supplements from appointed insurers like Aviva.
ElderShield Supplements such as Aviva's MyCare and MyCare Plus increases the payout amount, and lengthens the payout duration.
Depending on how much financial support you think you'd need, you can customise your monthly payouts from S$600 up to S$5,000. You can also opt for greater peace of mind by extending the payout period for a lifetime instead of just up to 6 years.
And if you thought it might be difficult to fulfil the criteria of not performing 3 out of 6 ADLs, MyCare Plus actually pays out when you can’t perform 2 (not 3 like the basic ElderShield) out of 6 ADLs.
For ElderShield Supplements like Aviva's MyCare or MyCare Plus, you can also use Medisave to pay for the premiums, up till the withdrawal limit of $600 per policy year per person. So no cash out of your pocket to get more benefits.
Now that you understand the contents of that ElderShield letter you've received, you can now remain automatically-enrolled in the scheme with confidence. And perhaps consider ElderShield Supplements to ensure you get the right coverage if ever you need long-term care.
Wondering how much long-term care would actually cost? Read about these two families' experiences of caring for their elderly parents and the actual amounts spent.
2Aviva Claims Data from 2011 – 2015