Subsidised cancer patients will receive higher insurance coverage for cancer treatment services from April 1 following a review.

Specifically, coverage will go up from $1,200 currently to $3,600 from April 1, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Saturday.

Since September 2022, claims for cancer treatment from MediShield Life have been split into two categories – drugs and services.

Patients can get between $200 and $9,600 insurance coverage for the most expensive drug used when more than one drug on the Cancer Drug List is prescribed. If it is a combination therapy that is on the list, all the drugs in the combination will be covered up to the $9,600 a month cap. Cancer drugs not on the list cannot be covered.

Claims for cancer services – which include everything else, such as consultation fees, tests and supportive drugs that treat for nausea or infections caused by the treatment – are capped at $1,200 a year. Before September 2022, the claim limits for both drugs and services were $3,000 a month for MediShield Life.

Patients on cheap cancer drugs usually have more than $1,000 a month from MediShield Life that could be used to pay for cancer services.

“Since its implementation, we have received feedback that the MediShield Life claim limit for cancer drug services may not be adequate for some patients who require more frequent tests to monitor disease progression or who require more supportive care drugs to manage their side effects,” said MOH in the Saturday statement.

It said that there will be no change to the $600 a year cap on MediSave withdrawal for cancer services. The release added: “MOH will continue to review our healthcare financing schemes to ensure that they remain adequate to address Singaporeans’ needs, while ensuring the long-term sustainability of healthcare costs. Nobody will be denied appropriate healthcare due to an inability to pay.”