Insurance coverage

Cancer patients affected by insurance coverage changes to get treatment help: Ong Ye Kung

SINGAPORE – Cancer patients who are not on the cancer drug list, and therefore no longer insurable by MediShield Life since Thursday, will receive government support to complete their treatment.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung gave the pledge to patients who started these treatments on or before Wednesday.

“We need to prevent them from seeing the cost of their cancer drugs skyrocket. We need to make arrangements so that the impact on them is minimal, or better yet, zero,” he said at the gala. from the Singapore Cancer Society. dinner on Friday.

Singapore has made significant changes to cancer insurance coverage. Although he reduced the number of drugs that could be covered by insurance, he increased the government subsidy from $12 million to $80 million a year.

The jump comes from both more drugs receiving subsidies and more people qualifying for subsidies, as the per capita household income threshold rose from $2,800 to $6,500.

But for the first time, the Department of Health has told insurance companies that offer Integrated Protection (IP) plans, which pay for unsubsidized treatment, what they can or cannot cover.

The move is an attempt to stem the skyrocketing cost of cancer treatment here.

Ong said spending on cancer drugs had more than doubled from $110 million to $275 million over the past five years.

“If nothing is done, it is expected to grow by 20% per year, which means it will double again every three to four years,” he said.

Hence the introduction of the list of effective and profitable drugs.

Only drugs and indications (a drug can be approved for one cancer, but not for another cancer) on the Cancer Drug List can be insured by MediShield Life starting September 1 and by NPs starting April 1 next year.

Mr Ong said limiting insurance coverage to the list of cancer drugs had an “immediate effect”, with prices of cancer drugs on the list dropping by 30% on average, and up to 65% in some cases.

The list covers more than 90% of cancer drugs approved for use here. Excluded drugs are usually those whose additional benefit does not justify the asking price.

Ong is optimistic that most, if not all, of the drugs not currently on the cancer drug list will be on the list in the months or years to come as prices come down.

Singapore paid far more for cancer treatment than other developed countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Britain.

He said: “As a small market, it is difficult for us to muster enough bargaining power to negotiate the price lower.”

Mr. Ong gave the example of Lonsurf, a colorectal cancer drug from Taiho Pharma of Japan. Patients in Australia pay $2,500. Those in public hospitals here pay over $4,500, while the private sector charges up to $10,000.