Budget debate: employers must buy higher medical insurance coverage for maids and migrant workers

SINGAPORE – Employers of housekeepers and other migrant workers with work permits and S Passes will soon be required to purchase higher medical insurance coverage for their employees.

They must purchase plans with a minimum annual claim limit of $60,000 for hospitalizations and surgeries, up from $15,000 now.

But they will no longer need to pay for medical care for their workers upfront and claim the amount from insurers later, as insurers will be required to reimburse claims for hospitalization and day surgery costs. directly to hospitals, said Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh. Koon on Friday (March 4).

“It will help cash-strapped employers, free up cash for businesses and help families with migrant domestic workers,” Dr Koh said during his ministry’s budget debate.

The changes will take effect by the end of this year for all new work permit and S Pass applications and renewals. More details will be provided later, the Ministry of Manpower said in a press release on Friday March 4.

Employers are legally responsible for the cost of medical treatment for migrant workers.

Dr Koh said the higher minimum cover will give employers greater peace of mind in funding their workers’ bills, as migrant workers do not have subsidies for medical bills unlike locals, and medical costs are expected to increase over time.

As it stands, more than 1,000 employers of migrant workers on average face bills over $15,000 each year, he said.

With the higher coverage requirement, insurers will still cover the first $15,000 of bills, plus 75% of amounts over $15,000, up to the annual claim limit.

Employers will pay the remaining 25% plus any additional costs beyond the claim limit.

For example, for a bill of $100,000, the employer would currently have to pay $85,000 under a plan with an annual claim limit of $15,000.

But with the new requirements, the insurer would cover the first $15,000 plus 75% of the remaining bill, up to the annual claim limit. In this case, that would be $45,000 under a plan with a claim limit of $60,000. The employer would therefore pay $40,000.

The claim limit may vary between plans, but must be at least $60,000.

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