SINGAPORE: The General Insurance Association of Singapore’s (GIA) proposal to cover platform workers under Medishield Life for medical expenses is essentially asking them to pay for their own medical expenses, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Koh Poh Koon said on Tuesday (Nov 29).
In principle, platform workers should receive the same level of coverage for work injury compensation as employees, who are currently covered for up to S$45,000 in medical expenses for work injuries by employers, he added.
“There is no reason why platform workers should have to rely on Medishield Life which they pay for using their own MediSave and consequently pay part of the medical bills using their MediSave or out of pocket cash if they suffer a work injury,” said Dr Koh.
Essentially, platform workers would be paying for their own medical expenses under such a suggestion, he added.
Dr Koh was responding to a question in Parliament about injuries among platform workers, such as private hire drivers and food delivery riders. MP Tan Wu Meng (PAP-Jurong) subsequently referred to the GIA’s proposal and asked why insurers and platform companies did not make the suggestion earlier given that they “knew that there are riders who are dying on the job”.
Last Wednesday, the Advisory Committee on Platform Workers made 12 recommendations on the better protection of such workers, including through Central Provident Fund contributions and enhanced injury compensation.
One of them is a requirement that platform companies provide the same scope and level of work injury compensation as employees are entitled to under the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA). The committee made this suggestion noting that insurance coverage was uneven for workers across the different platforms.
The government accepted the recommendations, which will be implemented gradually from the later part of 2024 at the earliest.
In response to the recommendations, the GIA suggested protections outside the Work Injury Compensation framework, as it has its downsides.
“An employee on a fixed wage may find it easy to quantify his income, but a platform worker must quantify and prove his loss of income over many months, and for many of them, across multiple platforms,” GIA’s chief executive Ho Kai Weng said in a statement last Wednesday.
Apart from MediShield Life, Mr Ho proposed adapting Prolonged Medical Leave (PML) insurance for longer term income replacement beyond 60 days. Platforms have bought these for their taxi and private hire drivers since 2019.
The GIA also suggested covering permanent incapacity and death with group personal accident or term life insurance, which covers platform workers 24 hours a day. Under this, platform workers would not have to prove that they were working at the time of the accident.