With the unveiling of a new Cancer Drug List (CDL), are we paying more for less, or is there more than meets The Eye? Let’s talk about changes to your cancer treatment coverage and how it affects us all.
Another year, another limitation placed on all our hospitalisation plans, or so it seems. While it feels like a limitation, this April’s announcement on new requirements for payouts by Integrated Shield Plans (IP) does have some legs to stand on. Here are some key facts you should know about the latest change.
- The new CDL limits MediShield Life claims to a specific set of pre-approved drugs. This was done to counter the rapid rise of cancer drugs in Singapore.
- You can get a rider for your IP if you want to cover drugs outside of the CDL, but it will be costly.
- A Critical Illness Policy might be a cost-effective way to help offset the costs of augmenting your protection.
- MediShield Life Claims for cancer patients are now separately categorised under “Drugs” and “services”.
Soaring Costs of Cancer Drugs Triggered This Change
If we were to take a guess at how much the Compound Annual Growth Rate of spending on cancer drugs are, you probably wouldn’t guess that it’s 20%. In 2019, Singaporeans spent $375 million just on cancer treatment drugs alone, with more spending expected to in this decade. This growth in cost is due to better diagnosis and newly-developed treatment options in the field of immunotherapy.
The cost issue is further compounded by the fact that more Singaporeans are getting cancer. When compared to 2008-2012, the Singapore Cancer Registry found that 25% more cancer cases were reported. Our Ministry of Health also lists cancer as the principle cause of death, causing more than 25% of deaths each year.
What is this change, exactly?
The increase in drug spending, and the rising number of cancer cases, motivated the MediShield Life Cancer Drugs Committee to make a few significant moves.
The first, and biggest move, is the establishment of a Cancer Drug List (CDL). This list contains cancer drugs that are:
- Clinically proven to treat cancer.
- Cost-effective, as established through the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) research methodology.
This CDL contains all the outpatient cancer drugs that will be claimable by patients on MediShield Life, MediSave, and IPs. This stringently pre-assessed list of cancer drugs that will tell you exactly what drug is used for which specific type of cancer.
Some people might be wondering what this HTA is, and why it is being used to assess cost-effectiveness. The World Health Organisation calls the Health Technology Assessment “a systematic and multidisciplinary evaluation” of health innovations. While less than 50% of countries make legislative requirements to formalise HTA in their healthcare decision making, this puts Singapore in the forefront of using assessment frameworks like HTA to make public healthcare policies.
Augment Your Protection: What can you do about this change?
Some people might welcome this change, while others might have concerns about needing new drugs and therapies that may end up not being on the CDL.
For those with such concerns, it may make sense for them to explore adding riders on top of their IPs. Since IP riders are currently considered to be unregulated, they can and often do cover non-CDL cancer drugs and treatments. However, these riders are costly (we’re looking at hundreds of dollars or more, depending on your age).
The alternative, and more cost-effective way to prepare for situations where the cancer treatment falls out of CDL coverage, is to consider getting dedicated critical illness coverage. Tiq 3 Plus Critical Illness provides cover from $30,000 all the way up to $300,000, and covers all stages of cancer, amongst other illnesses, all at an unbelievably affordable price (get a quote and see for yourself). You may also opt for a heart and neurological disorder rider, which covers the emergence and treatment of common heart and brain related diseases.
The Silver Lining: One Generally Unmentioned Change
Lost in the slew of news articles is another key change: Cancer patients can actually claim more from their MediShield than before.
While cancer patients used to have a hard limit of $3,000/month from their MediShield Life for all cancer-related drugs and services, the coverage benefits have changed to separately cover drugs and services. With this change, patients can actually claim up to $9,600/month for cancer drugs on the CDL, and $1200 per year for cancer services.
When compared to the previous maximum limit of $36,000/year, this new change to MediShield Life potentially allows for a $116,400/year claim limit for cancer patients using cancer drugs on the CDL.
Evolve Your Protection
As MediShield Life evolves and updates itself, so must all of us. The outsized cost of treatment for critical illnesses can negatively affect our loved ones. For moments like these, having a plan such as Tiq 3 Plus Critical Illness can make a difference in all your lives. Get your quote now, and begin living with peace of mind.
Information is accurate as at 15 May 2023. This policy is underwritten by Etiqa
Insurance Pte. Ltd. (Company Reg. No. 201331905K). Protected up to specified limits by SDIC.
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