COVID-19: Singapore revises charging policy on treatment of travellers from Aug 7

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SINGAPORE (Aug 6): Singapore is revising the charging policy for COVID-19 treatment for those who travel abroad under permitted travel arrangements from Aug 7.

The permitted travel arrangements include Green or Fast Lanes which are currently in place, as well as any permitted travel arrangement that may be implemented in the future.

This was announced by the republic’s Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who is also the co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on COVID-19, at a virtual press conference here today.

Gan said the travellers will be able to tap on regular healthcare financing arrangements for their inpatient medical bills, “should they have onset of symptoms within 14 days of their return to Singapore and require hospital admission for suspected COVID-19 infection”.

In other words, Singaporeans and permanent residents will be eligible for government subsidies and MediShield Life/ Integrated Shield Plans coverage, and will be required to pay any remaining co-payment.

Long-term pass holders, meanwhile, may tap on their prevailing financing arrangements such as foreign worker insurance, where applicable.

Singapore has its first travel arrangement with China and soon will have two travel schemes - Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) - with Malaysia, scheduled to kick off on Aug 17.

Singapore had previously issued a travel advisory that those who travel overseas from March 27 onwards are required to pay for their own inpatient medical bills in full should they have the onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore.

The task force noted that travellers who are not under permitted travel arrangements and travel in breach of the travel advisories will continue to pay for their COVID-19 inpatient medical bills in full with no access to subsidies and Plans coverage.

Short-term pass holders entering Singapore under permitted travel arrangements will remain responsible for their medical bills, should they test positive for COVID-19, it added.

On the question of allowing work pass holders approved under the PCA travel scheme with Malaysia to serve a shorter Stay-Home Notice (SHN) of at least seven days, Gan said Singapore had taken a “holistic assessment” before making the decision.

He said the republic adopted a risk-management approach which took into account where the travellers were coming from as well as mitigating measures that the other country had put in place.

“On the basis of that risk, we will then determine the precautionary measures that we need to put in place,” he said.

Gan noted that as for Malaysia, the country's prevalence rates were significantly similar to Singapore's, and in some cases lower than Singapore's.

“Therefore, the risk of infection is quite similar to a fellow Singaporean," said the minister.

Apart from serving at least a seven-day SHN, Malaysian citizens and permanent residents with valid Singapore work passes would also need to undergo a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.