Last updated: 13 March 2023

Published on: 20 June 2016


The inside story of how a project to automate nation-wide eligibility checks for MediShield Life Premium Subsidies won a major Health IT Award.

Seven months from idea to implementation.

This was the frenetic pace at which the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) policy and Infocomm teams worked to develop a system for automating nation-wide eligibility checks for MediShield Life Premium Subsidies, delivering it in time for the launch of the national health insurance plan in November 2015.

IT Summit

The National IT Health Excellence Awards ceremony was held in conjunction with the recent National Health IT Summit.

The project, which enables the subsidies to be automatically calculated and disbursed to all eligible Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, won the award for IT Excellence in Delivery of Affordable Care at the National IT Health Excellence Awards.

It was presented by Minister for Health, Mr Gan Kim Yong, during the National Health IT Summit held on 20 May.  

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Mr Gan (main photo, above) commended the MOH Infocomm team for their effort and commitment in supporting the successful launch of MediShield Life. 

“It is the culmination of over three years of hard work involving extensive enhancements to MOH and hospitals’ systems while involving partners from CPF Board, IDA and numerous data contributing agencies and healthcare institutes,” he said. 

Mr Gan noted that tremendous effort and commitment had gone into implementing Singapore’s first nationwide Household Check Exercise, so that the MediShield Life Premium Subsidies could be automatically computed. 

The team also worked within a very tight project timeline to implement a Premium Check e-Service in end October 2015, allowing citizens and permanent residents to check on their eligible subsidies and premiums payable for MediShield Life insurance coverage.

Automating Household Checks for Eligibility

For most Government assistance schemes, Singapore Residents have to step forward to apply, so that they can be assessed as a household.

However, with 3.9 million people immediately eligible for subsidies under the new MediShield Life, manual application for subsidies would have been very difficult, said Ms Tan Yen Yen, Assistant Director, Application Services, Infocomm Division, Ministry of Health. 

The solution was to develop a system to facilitate the checking of households’ eligibility for the subsidies.

This involved tapping on government records to determine what constituted a “household” from an administrative perspective. 

team pic

Ms Tan Yen Yen (second from left) and her team celebrating the IT Excellence in Delivery of Affordable Care Award.

In order to derive this, the MOH team worked with many government agencies and developed most of the system interfaces from scratch in order to extract the relevant data, added Ms Tan. 

The system took in diverse data sets to administratively determine the household composition for all relevant households.  This household composition was then verified by Singapore Residents in a nation-wide Household Check Exercise, before means testing was applied to the household construct to compute the premium subsidies.

To meet the needs of such a large-scale project and ensure the security of the data obtained, the MOH team also made use of the facilities provided at Government Cloud (G-Cloud) and SingPass, a Whole-of-Government authentication mechanism, for the system e-Services’ access, said Mr David Chua, Director, IT Systems, MOH.  

G-Cloud is a resilient and secure ICT shared environment that allows government agencies to procure computing resources on-demand.

“G-Cloud enabled us to ramp up quickly from zero servers to more than 50 servers within three months. This would not have been possible with manual procurement.”

Reflecting on her experience with the successful project, Ms Tan said: “I am really grateful to be part of the MediShield Life project team that made a difference to the entire nation in delivering Better Protection, For All, For Life, and, on time.” 

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