From August 2018 onwards, there will be a new Integrated Shield Plan (IP) player in town. Meet Raffles Health Insurance, the company that is now the seventh IP provider in Singapore’s medical insurance market. Raffles Health Insurance will be offering its own IP plan known as Raffles Shield.
But here’s the thing. Raffles Shield isn’t like the usual IP plans. According to Raffles Medical Group executive chairman Dr Loo Choon Yong, Raffles Shield is here to cover gaps in the market. There are four ways in which Raffles Shield distinguishes itself from the rest of its competitors.
1. First IP provider with “control” over healthcare treatment
Raffles Health Insurance is not a typical health insurer. Raffles Health Insurance is a subsidiary of Raffles Medical Group where the parent company’s core business is providing quality healthcare services. This differentiates Raffles Health Insurance from regular IP providers like Aviva, AIA and Great Eastern.
a. Greater control over healthcare treatment via Raffles Medical Group
Firstly, Raffles Health Insurance has greater control over the healthcare treatment it extends to policyholders. Raffles Shield will have a panel of specialists that espouse evidence-based medicine who will be recruited from private hospitals. This ensures that the right amount of healthcare is given at the right time so that healthcare is “delivered and used appropriately”, according to Raffles Medical Group executive chairman Loo Choon Yong.
b. More visibility on cost and control over underwriting loss ratio
Secondly, with greater control over healthcare treatment, Raffles Health Insurance has greater visibility on the true cost of providing healthcare. By having the ability to influence healthcare cost, it allows Raffles Health Insurance to keep its underwriting loss ratio healthy and sustainable. In this manner, Raffles Health Insurance can avoid raising premiums and keep its premiums competitive. This is important for consumers, especially with IP providers raking in escalating underwriting losses despite premium hikes.
2. Insuring and designing a care plan for policyholders with pre-existing conditions
Diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. These are the three pre-existing conditions that Raffles Health Insurance has pledged to offer medical insurance coverage for. Typically, IP providers will choose to exclude some insurance coverage for medical treatments that can result from diabetes, high cholesterol or hypertension. This reduces the risks that IP providers undertake when insuring lives with pre-existing conditions.
Bringing positive financial and health impact for policyholders with pre-existing conditions
However, in the case of Raffles Shield, Raffles Health Insurance will cover the pre-existing conditions, albeit at a higher premium. While this is also a common practice amongst other IP providers, Raffles Health Insurance is offering something extra, i.e. Professional medical care plan. Raffles Health Insurance will be enforcing a care plan on those with pre-existing conditions. This is meant to help policyholders with a pre-existing condition to review, monitor and improve their health. If the policyholder can keep himself/herself healthy, his/her premium will be reviewed.
Having such a feature for Raffles Shield will bring both financial and health impact to policyholders. The financial impact will be lower premiums for those with pre-existing conditions while the health impact will be intangible if it helps you improve your health.
Related: CareShield Life Replaces ElderShield in 2020: Here’s What You Should Know and How It Affects You
3. Guaranteed upgrade feature without underwriting
When you sign up for an IP, you need to determine the type of plan (e.g. standard or enhanced) that you want to buy. Once you have made the decision, there is no turning back. You cannot choose to upgrade your plan. The only ways are for you to either “upgrade” your current IP by buying a new IP or getting a completely new IP with enhanced coverage. Unfortunately, this comes at a cost and it is often cost inefficient.
First IP provider to offer guaranteed upgrade feature in the market
Now, Raffles Health Insurance is introducing a new feature to Raffles Shield that no IP provider has offered in the market. For the first time, an IP will come with the choice to upgrade without underwriting. This means that if you decide that your medical coverage is not enough, you can choose to upgrade it at any time by informing Raffles Health Insurance. Once you start paying the premiums for the “upgraded” coverage, you will receive “upgraded” insurance coverage.
Guaranteed upgrade feature will benefit working adults
This feature is especially useful for working adults. Nowadays, employers offer their own medical insurance for employees. Thus, there is no point for working adults to buy an IP with enhanced coverage given there is already basic protection from employers. You will be overpaying for medical coverage that is already covered by your employer.
However, due to the design of current IP plans, working adults are forced to push back their plans to buy an IP until they are older. This then leads to a practical problem of lower insurability as you get older.
What happens if you get sick while waiting for the right time to buy a private IP plan? Your premiums for a private IP plan become much more expensive. Worse still, you might even have exclusion clauses for your chronic ailments. With Raffles Shield, you can start with a more basic plan and upgrade whenever you need.
However, the only caveat is that Raffles Health Insurance didn’t disclose how long it would take for the upgrade to be processed.
4. Raffles Hospital option lets you get more with less
Another interesting feature that distinguishes Raffles Shield from the regular IP plans in the market is the Raffles Hospital option. For the usual IP plans, you will need to pay higher premiums in order to get private hospital coverage. For some, it might be out of your budget. Thus, Raffles Health Insurance will be introducing the Raffles Hospital option for Raffles Shield policyholders.
Raffles Hospital option allows you to seek treatment at Raffles Hospital, which is a widely known private hospital. But instead of paying full private premiums, Raffles Health Insurance will charge you only a slight premium above the A ward plan. This will entitle Raffles Shield policyholders to receive insured medical care at Raffles Hospital’s A class ward.
Raffles Shield looks promising, for now
The introduction of Raffles Shield seems to be targeted at the rest of the IP plans and giving the rest a run for their money. If you have yet to get an IP plan and planning to get one, we think that it’s worthwhile including Raffles Shield in your shortlist. It looks like one that offers a lot of promise compared to the usual IPs in the market, at least for now. If you’re interested, find out more about Raffles Shield here.