Photo of Gan Kim Yong from thestraitstimes

Only about 70% of around 3,000 applications to stop payment for MediShield Life has been approved, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH). The rest are rejected. The Singapore health ministry said that there are over 213,000 Singaporeans permanently residing overseas but they will still have to pay local insurance even if they do not intend to return to Singapore.

In 2016, MOH laid down several stringent conditions to prevent overseas Singaporeans from opting out from the compulsory national insurance scheme. An overseas Singaporean has to possess a permanent residency from another country, and lived abroad for more than five years with no more than 140 days spent in Singapore over the period. Male Singaporeans will also have to complete their National Service. Failure to pay the premiums will result in prosecution, according to the health ministry.

MediShield Life premiums are automatically deducted from a Singaporean’s CPF. The law to make deductions without permission is enacted in Nov 2015 by dictator Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

As MediShield Life do not offer coverage for overseas treatment, overseas Singaporeans find it unfair for them to be paying the government premiums for coverage they never get.

The Singapore government is however attracted by the “free premium” from overseas Singaporeans, as they are the lowest-risk group who will unlikely make any claim.