CareShield Life is a national long-term care insurance scheme that provides basic financial support should Singaporeans become severely disabled and need personal and medical care for a prolonged duration. (Source: CareShield Life) It was launched in Oct 2020 and made compulsory for all Singaporeans born in 1980 or later. As the description suggests, coverage afforded is meant to be basic and hence there is a real case to be made for supplementary insurance policies to be added. Furthermore, we expect 1 in 2 healthy Singaporeans aged 65 could become severely disabled in their lifetime and may need long-term care. Let me first explain how CareShield Life works and then demonstrate how we can reap at least 6 benefits when we upgrade our long-term care insurance coverage with Singlife CareShield Standard or Singlife CareShield Plus.
How Does CareShield Life Work?
CareShield Life provides a payout upon the diagnosis of severe disability. Severe disability is defined as being unable to perform 3 out of the 6 activities of daily living (‘ADLs’) as shown in Diagram 1.
Payouts start from $600/month for successful claims made in 2020 and last as long as the individual remains severely disabled. The payouts will help to partially finance the heavy and prolonged costs of long-term care services. Even after factoring a 2% escalation on the payouts each year, it is obvious that this amount is not even sufficient to hire a full-time caregiver. Another national long-term care scheme, ElderShield provides disability payouts of $300 or $400 per month for a restricted period of up to 5 or 6 years, depending on the scheme you are on. Given the smaller payouts which are made over a shorter duration when compared to CareShield Life, the discussion on its adequacy is rather moot.
Therefore, Singaporeans who can afford the premiums should seriously consider whether it is beneficial to proactively upgrade their long-term care insurance coverage rather than relying solely on the national schemes as shown in Diagram 2. Several private insurers in Singapore offer CareShield Life and ElderShield supplements.
Singlife CareShield Standard and Plus
Singlife CareShield Standard and Plus are 2 government-approved supplement plans that boost your CareShield Life or ElderShield payouts. Before Singlife’s merger with Aviva, these plans were known as MyLongTermCare and MyLongTermCare Plus respectively.
Let’s find out how its 6 different benefit payouts can help give you and your loved ones greater assurance during unexpected events in life.
1) Severe Disability Benefit
For Singlife CareShield Plus, the Severe Disability Benefit is paid out if the Life Assured is diagnosed as being unable to perform 2 or more ADLs. For Singlife CareShield Standard, the minimum threshold is 3 ADLs instead.
Customers can select monthly payouts ranging from $200 to $5,000 which cater to a wide range of financial circumstances. At the same time, they can choose between fixed or increasing payouts at the onset of the policy. Each has its own merit – consistent payouts make budgeting easier, while those that grow by a small percentage annually can help mitigate the effects of medical inflation.
Of course, the level of payout chosen will directly affect the premiums payable. For avoidance of doubt, note that this Severe Disability Benefit is in addition to the payouts from CareShield Life.
2) Lump Sum Benefit
This is an additional lump sum benefit that will be payable only once during the policy term, when the Life Assured is severely disabled. The Lump Sum Benefit payment will amount to 3 times the first monthly Severe Disability Benefit.
This is most useful for helping to defray one-off costs such as initial medical bills, daily living aids such as wheelchair and electrical adjustable bed etc.
3) Rehabilitation Benefit
A monthly Rehabilitation Benefit will be payable when the Life Assured recovers from a Severe Disability but is still unable to perform 2 of the 6 ADLs. Similarly, if after the Life Assured has recovered and subsequently suffers a Severe Disability again and is unable to perform 2 of the 6 ADLs, the Rehabilitation Benefit will be payable. This amounts to 50% of the last paid 1) Severe Disability Benefit. The money will come in useful to help the Life Assured seek active rehabilitation or maintenance rehabilitation treatment to maintain or slow the decline of his/her physical condition.
More impressively, no other insurance policy in the market currently offers this benefit. However, do note that the Rehabilitation Benefit is only available to Life Assured under Singlife CareShield Standard policy.
4) Dependant Care Benefit
If the customer has a child under the age of 22 during the time he or she is diagnosed with severe disability, an additional 20% of the monthly Severe Disability Benefit will also be paid. This will be payable for a maximum period of 36 months.
This is to recognise that there are dependants at home who are reliant on the incomes of the customer who is unfortunately unable to work for the period.
5) Caregiver Relief Benefit
Upon diagnosis of Severe Disability, the Life Assured would require a caregiver to provide constant care. At times, it is impossible to find a caregiver on such short notice and loved ones may end up taking temporary no-pay leave from work. Therefore, the Caregiver Relief Benefit, which is an additional 60% of their monthly Severe Disability Benefit, can help to defray the caregiver’s temporary loss in income. This payout is capped up to a maximum of 12 months.
6) Death Benefit
The Death Benefit provides a payout that is 3 times of the last monthly benefit if the Life Assured dies while receiving either 1) or 3). This financial relief can help with funeral expenses which is also a significant expense.
Beyond these 6 benefits, another noteworthy feature is the Guaranteed Issuance Option which lets the policyholder increase his or her monthly benefit at key life stage events such as getting married or buying a property without providing further evidence of insurability. This is a very helpful and powerful option unique to Singlife CareShield Standard and Plus as our personal circumstances and health may change at every life stage.
Finally, do take note that a Deferment Period of 90 days is applicable from the date the Life Assured is confirmed and certified by an Appointed Assessor as being severely disabled. 1) Severe Disability Benefit, 2) Lump Sum Benefit, 4) Dependant Care Benefit and 5) Caregiver Relief Benefit will only be paid after the Deferment Period.
Flexible Payment Terms
Payment mode and payment terms are also extremely flexible when it comes to Singlife CareShield Standard and Plus. That is one more reason to sign up for either of them as a supplement policy to CareShield Life or ElderShield. As they are MediSave-approved plans*, the customer is able to apply for additional disability coverage with little to no additional cash premium top-ups required.
Policyholders get to choose a premium payment period that best suits their current financial circumstances. For instance, to keep premiums manageable, choose to pay up to the policy anniversary after you turn 98. Alternatively, pay for a limited time (such as till age 68 or for 20 years) so that you don’t have to pay premiums during retirement.
Finally, with the waiver of premium benefit, there is no need to pay any more premiums if customer is unable to perform at least 1 of the 6 ADLs.
*MediSave Annual Withdrawal Limit is set at S$600 per calendar year per insured person
The reality is that disability, whether due to accidents or underlying medical conditions, can happen to anyone regardless of age and lifestyle. It is also true that the longer you wait to upgrade your CareShield Life, the more you may have to fork out in terms of premiums, which increase with age. Therefore, MediSave-approved supplement plans should be considered as it helps with long term care over a prolonged period of time. Sign up for Singlife CareShield Standard or Singlife CareShield Plus to enjoy 20% lifetime premium discount*!
All ages mentioned refer to age next birthday (ANB).
This policy is underwritten by Singapore Life Ltd.
This article is published for general information only and does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any specific person
Please refer here for more information on Singlife CareShield Standard or Singlife CareShield Plus.
Protected up to specified limits by SDIC. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The information is accurate as at 21 Dec 2022.