The online petition calling on the government to review the higher Careshield Life premiums for women has garnered almost 10,000 signatures so far.
Started in the first week of July, the petition suggested that premiums for women be lowered by $23.50 and be increased by the same amount for men.
Careshield Life is a government-run insurance scheme for the elderly and those who are severely disabled, and who can’t perform 3 out of 6 tasks of daily living.
The scheme is a revamped version of the existing Eldershield and will come into effect from 2020. The participating age has been brought forward to 30, instead of the current 40. Members will thus pay 37 years worth of premiums, until they are 67. The government has said premiums will be reviewed periodically, or when necessary.
The payout has also been increased from $400 to $600 for life, an extension from the maximum 70 months under Eldershield.
News of the changes were met with skepticism and questions were raised, particularly about the premiums which will be collected, the inadequate payout, and the higher premiums for women.
Under Eldershield, the total premiums collected by the insurance companies were some $3.3 billion from 2002 (when the scheme was introduced) to 2017.
The total payout during the same period, however, was just $133m.
The petition argued that both men and women should pay the same amount of premiums in the interest of equality, and also to recognise that many women are housewives without income and CPF contribution. Women also use more healthcare because they bear children, for example.
It is thus unfair for them to foot a higher healthcare bill compared to men.
Additionally, women live longer than men, a reason cited by the government for the higher premiums.
However, the petition argued that using this as a reason meant punishing women for living longer.
“It is an outrage that women are being penalised for living longer,” the petition said. “What statement are we sending to women, young and old, when we penalise them for simply…existing? What message does this send to the world about our nation?”
The government has yet to respond to the petition.