Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Parents with premature babies need more financial support

[A well-intentioned writer who is not aware of Medishield Life.]

By Ng Chee Kheon

19 December, 2017

Whenever the subject of how to raise Singapore’s total fertility rate is being discussed, the focus is invariably on things like increasing maternity and paternity leave, providing affordable childcare services and education, and enhancing work-life balance.

However, the emotional trauma experienced by parents with pre-mature babies, as well as their financial plight, have not been highlighted enough.

Pre-mature babies need to be warded in an intensive care unit for weeks, if not months. The resulting total medical bills could run into tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I believe not many parents with average incomes could afford the astronomical medical fees. Even if they could, they would probably have to exhaust their Medisave funds and life savings.

In short, these couples who have, in good faith, taken the plunge to have babies, are dealt a double whammy of financial “ruin” and extreme anguish in terms of the uncertainties regarding the health and growth of their babies.

As an inclusive and caring society, Singapore should have a special scheme to provide the necessary financial aid and psychological support for this group of parents, even if they may be considered the minority.

A bonus to such a scheme is that it may indirectly encourage more couples to have babies when it is assured that help is at hand should there be any pre-term deliveries, which are beyond anyone’s control.

[I will not be making fun of this writer, because his intentions are good. His knowledge, not so much. Medishield Life has been in force since Nov 2015. My understanding is that Medishield Life covers all SC, from birth, regardless of pre-existing conditions. So premature children and their medical complications should be covered. If there are exceptions, he did not mention it in his letter. If Medishield Life falls short, it was not explained by him how it fell short.]

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