1) Last year, you said that NTUC Income will not be offering a "as charged" plan. Why do you change your mind?
Reply: Here are three reasons why we decided to introduce the enhanced plan to offer "as charged" coverage:
- Some policyholders indicate that they are willing to pay a higher premium for the "as charged" plan. We wish to meet the wishes of these policyholders.
- Our "as charged" plan requires prior approval, except for emergency. This is to allow our medical adviser to give a second opinion of the proposed treatment and to avoid unnecessary treatment. In most cases, approval will be given within one day.
- We will continue to offer the basic Incomeshield, which is subject to limits for each category of treatment. Our basic plan will continue to be the most affordable in the market.
Initially, the enhanced Incomeshield cost about 15% higher than the similar basic plan, but this difference may widen in the future, based on the claim experience. We will try our best to keep the premium rates at an affordable level for the enhanced plan. It depends on our ability to prevent escalation in medical expenses.
If the gap widens, some policyholders may wish to opt back into the similar basic plan (which will continue to be available) to enjoy the lower premium rates.
Our strategy is to offer a choice for consumers.
2)An industry observer said that insurers are not fighting to get a bigger piece of the pie, but instead its a fight for healthy lives Did you face problems with unhealthy policyholders who wish to upgrade to "as charged plans.?
Reply: We will allow our existing policyholders to upgrade to the enhanced plan without any underwriting on the next renewal date. This will be hassle free. They can upgrade to the enhanced plan during this window period, even if their health condition does not meet the normal acceptance standard.
This is a privilege that we wish to give to all existing policyholders of the basic Incomeshield plan.
After the window period, they will be required to provide evidence of good health for upgrading at a future renewal date.
3) Your "as-charged" plan requires the policyholder to give 4 days advance notice before being treated in a hospital. How is this being managed? If a policyholder fails to fulfill this condition, is there a penalty?
Reply: Under the Enhanced Incomeshield Plan, we ask the policyholder to call us, four working days prior to admission to hospital to seek our guidance on admission and coverage.
We will check that the proposed medical treatment and the charges are reasonable, and give our approval as soon as possible. This can normally be done within one or two working days.
If there is any doubt, we will seek a second opinion of our medical adviser or a panel of specialists. This opinion can be obtained quite quickly.
We believe that this approach will help to reduce the possibility of unnecessary treatment or inflated charges.
In the case of emergency, there is no need to get our prior approval.
If a policyholder overlook to get our prior approval, we will still process the claim. If the medical bill is reasonably and necessary, it will be paid in full. In other cases, we will still make a partial payment, based on the limits that are provided under the basic plan.
4) What is the rate of claims for your various medical insurance plans?
We process about 60,000 claims a year, representing about 7.5% of the policyholders covered under our Incmeshield plan.
5) In the event of a dispute, where do NTUC Income and the consumer take their claims to?
Reply: We refer all disputes to an independent third party, such as the Financial Industry Dispute Resolution Center (FiDREC). Less than 1 percent of claims lead to a dispute.
6) Do you expect many new policyholders, or existing policyholders to upgrade to the "as charged" plan?
Reply: We are getting good response from existing policyholders to upgrad to the enhanced plan. We are getting many new applications as well.
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