3 Important Changes
Affecting Your Cancer Coverage Claims

We help you understand how the introduction of the Cancer Drug List framework affects the type of cancer treatment that can be covered.

Rising Prevalence and Cost of Cancer Treatment in Singapore

1 in 3 Singaporeans are diagnosed with Cancer

On Average, 1 in 3 people in Singapore will be diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives.¹

Cancer is the Primary Cause of Death

In 2020, 28.6% of total deaths in Singapore are caused by cancer.²

Cancer is one of the top reasons for hospitalisation

According to MOH, cancer is the second leading cause of hospitalization among Singaporeans in 2019-2021.²

Common Cancers Affecting Male and Female

According to the Singapore Cancer Society, the most common cancers for males between 2014 and 2018 were Colon and Rectum Cancer, while for women it was Breast Cancer.²

It is against this backdrop that the Ministry of Health (MOH) made sweeping changes to the financing of outpatient cancer treatment³. This is done with the aim of keeping the overall expenditure on cancer treatments sustainable and rise in insurance premiums manageable.

Major Change #1

MediShield Life and Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) Will No Longer Cover Outpatient Cancer Drug Treatments Not Listed on the Cancer Drug List (CDL)

Under the new outpatient cancer financing framework, MediShield Life and private Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) will only cover outpatient cancer drug treatments that are included in the Ministry of Health’s Cancer Drug List (CDL)³.

The CDL specifies both the drug name and the cancer type it is approved to be used on. This means that even if a particular drug has been included on the CDL for one type of cancer, it does not mean that treatment will be covered for another type of cancer.

Therefore, cancer treatments prescribed by your doctor that are not on the CDL will need to be paid for in cash or by some other insurance policy, such as a critical illness plan or cancer-specific standalone policy. This is because Integrated Shield Plans are forbidden from providing coverage for non-CDL drugs and treatments.

Major Change #2

No More As-Charged Coverage of Outpatient Cancer Drug Treatments, Even If the Treatments Are Listed on the Cancer Drug List (CDL)

In addition to specifying the drug and type of cancer, the CDL also introduces limits on MediShield Life claims and the maximum amount of MediSave allowed to be used. In the past, the majority of Integrated Shield Plans  operate on an as-charged basis.

Under this round of changes, separate claim limits for cancer drug services have been introduced. These cover ancillary procedures that are part of the cancer treatment, including consultations, scans, lab investigations, chemotherapy preparations, supportive care drugs and blood transfusions.

Cancer Drug List Updates — Engage

This means that if a particular approved treatment on the CDL costs more than the allowable MediShield Life claim limit, patients would need to claim against their integrated shield plans – up to the policy limits. If this is still insufficient, patients will then need to top-up any shortfall in cash.

Major Change #3

Insurers Offering Integrated Shield Plans Can Now Offer Riders to Enhance the Coverage on Outpatient Cancer Drug Treatment

Cancer Drug List Updates — Engage

In response to the Cancer Drug List (CDL), Integrated Shield Plan (IP) providers have started to offer rider plans for IP policyholders to enhance outpatient cancer drug treatment coverage.

However, it is important to realise that IP riders’ coverage differs significantly among the IP insurers. Therefore, the impact on IP policyholders varies depending on the IP rider’s coverage level.

What Should You Do In Light of These Changes?

These changes to the way outpatient cancer drug treatments can be financed have huge implications for Integrated Shield Plan (IP) policyholders. The best time to review your coverage is now – when you are in good health and do not require claims for cancer treatment (and hopefully never).

Here are three things you should do today to ensure you are adequately protected financially, so that even if the worst were to occur, finances would not be a worry or impediment to your recovery.

1) Understand the Impact of Changes on Your Policies

Do you know what is your coverage gap that resulted from the reduction in coverage on outpatient cancer drug treatment? Even if the policies you bought previously were adequate for you previously, this might not hold true in light of the changes.

2) Carefully Weigh Pros and Cons Before You Make Any Decision to Switch IP Insurers

If you are considering switching your IP because you are attracted by the more comprehensive riders provided by another insurer, you should not make this decision lightly. It is usually a bad idea to switch IP insurers, and you need to fully understand the implications of doing so.

3) Enhance Your Cancer Coverage with Other Insurance Policies Not Tied to IP Plans

Besides IP riders, there are other options that you can use to boost your cancer coverage. These include standalone cancer plans, critical illness policies, and more. Each of these options have varying costs, claim criteria, and should be used as part of a holistic protection portfolio.

Getting the Best Cancer Protection Plan

Engage Financial Alliance,
The Largest Independent Financial Advisory Firm in Singapore

Why an INDEPENDENT Financial Adviser ?

By being independent, we offer impartial financial advice that is in the clients’ interest instead of providing biased advice that is unduly influenced by our business partners’ sales quotas or higher commissions.

Cancer Drug List Updates — Engage
Cancer Drug List Updates — Engage

Leveraging on Our Experience Financial Consultant and In-House Research Team

Get the best cancer protection plan as we narrow down the thousands of products provided by various financial institutions in Singapore and enjoy a well-rounded solution.

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Our access to a suite of products and services, coupled with strategic tie-ups with business partners (as mentioned above) give us the independence,  range and depth to serve your needs.

Cancer Drug List Updates — Engage


  1. Raffles Medical Group – “Cancer Happens to 1 in 3 Singaporeans”
  2. Ministry of Health Singapore – “Resources & Statistics”
  3. Ministry of Health Singapore – “Cancer Drug List”
Cancer Drug List Updates — Engage


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