MP Leon Perera

Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Manpower (a) whether having a mental health-related condition is a ground for being ineligible for the Home Protection Scheme (HPS); (b) if so, what is the rationale; and (c) what specific mental health-related conditions will prevent the take-up of HPS.

The Minister for Manpower (Dr Tan See Leng): Mr Speaker, Sir, the Home Protection Scheme (HPS) is a mortgage reducing insurance that protects CPF members and their families from losing their HDB flats in the event of the member’s death, terminal illness, or total permanent disability.

Having a mental health-related condition is not necessarily a ground that would make a person ineligible for the HPS. Instead, a member’s eligibility for the HPS is assessed based on the overall severity, prognosis and control of the medical condition as well as their health risk profile.

Hence, even for members with pre-existing mental health-related conditions, a majority of them are covered under the scheme because their conditions are assessed by medical professionals to be mild or moderate.

Notwithstanding this, the HPS coverage is not extended to applicants with serious pre-existing medical conditions, including serious mental health-related conditions, if they are assessed to have significantly higher risk of mortality. Members of the House, this is in line with industry practice. This ensures the affordability of premiums for the majority of members as well as the viability of the scheme.

Mr Speaker: Mr Perera.

Mr Leon Perera (Aljunied): I thank the Minister. Just two supplementary questions. Firstly, just to clarify my understanding of what he said, the relevant authorities will take a nuanced approach looking at the extent of the mental health condition and also the nature of the mental health condition – I think different types of conditions may have different implications in terms of behaviour and in terms of the propensity to do different things that could affect the actuarial basis of the scheme. So, just want to confirm the understanding that you would be looking at severity as well as the type of mental health conditions to decide on eligibility.

My second supplementary question is, when looking at these issues, does the Government take into consideration that whatever the actuarial science says about people with mental health conditions who go on to schemes like this, that data may have come about in the past when the extent of diagnosis of mental health conditions was maybe much, much less than what it is now and what it will be in the future, with growing awareness of mental health issues and as we move away from the stigmatisation and discrimination of people with mental health conditions, and you can expect that more people will be diagnosed – so, are we using data from the past in order to draw an actuarial conclusion about the present day? Is that taken into consideration as well?

Dr Tan See Leng: Mr Speaker, I think to the first supplementary question, the answer is yes. We do take a nuanced approach; we depend on medical experts; we are certainly not the experts in determining what is the level of severity, the prognosis, to whether the actuarial risks associated with the mortality or morbidity as a result of a particular illness. So, we do take a nuanced approach, but it is based on advice from experts and medical experts, including psychiatric experts, if you talk about mental illness.

What we do need, however, is for the members at the point of signing, to disclose upfront the pre-existing conditions that they have. Because you can imagine and you can surmise or conclude that if you disclose it after the event and you have a pre-existing condition that you do not disclose upfront and if something then happens, after that for you then go back and have all that data, I think it would be very difficult for us to access that data.

To the second supplementary question, in terms of the extent of the diagnosis, we constantly and continuously review the data that is available. And I think this is not something that is carved in stone in terms of the coverage. However, because of the fact that the HPS is constructed to be as widespread and as pervasive as possible to support the broadest segment of our population in their home protection – for them to be able to continue to cover the loans in the event of total permanent disability and so on and so forth – we also want to keep the scheme sustainable and affordable. Hence, the approach is a very balanced, very measured and a calibrated one. I hope that addresses your query. 

Ministry of Manpower
22 March 2023

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