A set of premature quadruplets born last month, the first since 2008, are running up an estimated hospital bill of $180,000 and counting, and the babies’ family is growing more distressed as they wonder how to pay for it all.
Mr and Mrs Phua are first-time parents to 4 children in one go, but celebrations over their successful delivery of naturally-conceived quadruplets are proving to be short-lived. The set of preemies are still under intensive care in hospital, and their bill is reaching proportions that the family can’t handle.
While the eldest of the quadruplets is looking to be discharged soon, her three siblings are still warded in the $1,000-per-child-per-day neonatal intensive care unit, and the children have been staying at Gleneagles hospital for more than a month now.
The family was told that the money they received from the government through their Child Development Account could not be used to foot the hospital fees. The grandparents are also seeking advice from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board and the Ministry of Health (MOH) to use their own funds to help their son and daughter-in-law with the hospital expenses. Yet even after the parents’ and grandparents’ combined CPF sum of $90,000, the funds will only be able to cover half the quadruplet’s healthcare costs.
The Children’s Development Co-savings Scheme
Besides the cash gift (up to $4,000 each for your 1st and 2nd child and $6,000 each for your 3rd and 4th child) provided by the Baby Bonus Scheme, your child is also eligible a Children’s Development Account (CDA). As its name suggests, the CDA is meant for use in your child’s development; this includes school fees, medical expenses and other miscellaneous expenses incurred with approved institutions, including:
- Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS)-registered child care centres;
- Ministry of Education (MOE)/Council for Private Education (CPE)-registered kindergartens or special education schools;
- Ministry of Health (MOH)-licensed hospitals or clinics under the Private Hospitals and Medical Clinics (PHMC) Act;
- National Council of Social Service (NCSS)/Centre for Enabled Living (CEL)-registered early intervention programmes for children aged 6 years and younger with disabilities;
- Health Sciences Authority (HSA)-registered pharmacies;
- Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)-registered optical shops; or
- Assistive Technology device (ATD) providers which are (i) voluntary welfare organizations registered with NCSS, (ii) healthcare institutions licensed by MOH, or (iii) ACRA-registered businesses that provide such devices for retail purposes.
When contacted, MCYS specifically stated that any fees pertaining to the delivery of your child, or any subsequent child, is not included in the list of approved uses under the CDA scheme. That being said, parents can use their CPF MediSave accounts to help them with these expenses.
Grandparents’ CPF accounts
Your MediSave can be used to cover your spouse’s, children’s, parents’ or grandparents’ hospitalisation expenses (MediShield is only applicable to the individual covered by the policy).
However, the MOH strictly forbids the use of grandparents’ MediSave to pay for their grandchildren’s medical costs, because CPF funds serve as a retirement nest-egg for old age, and as such, the government places policies to ensure the CPF drawings are protected for the benefit of senior citizens who hold the funds.
To ease your financial burden with child delivery arrangements, you may wish to consider comparing hospitals based on their affordability. Singapore currently has 9 maternity hospitals:
- Gleneagles Hospital (view maternity packages)
- Kandang Kerbau Women and Children’s Hospital (view maternity services)
- Mount Alvernia (view maternity packages)
- Mount Elizabeth (view maternity packages)
- National University Hospital (view maternity packages in PDF)
- Parkway East Hospital (view maternity packages)
- Raffles Hospital (view delivery packages)
- Singapore General Hospital (view maternity packages)
- Thomson Medical Centre (view maternity packages)
The above-listed maternity hospitals also provide financial assistance and advice if you’re financially strapped. You can discuss possibilities with the hospital’s in-house counsellors, who may be able to offer you installment options, discounts on your medical expenses or even refer you to the relevant government agencies for additional help.