Singapore is known for its top-notch healthcare system – great news for all of us, though it can also mean some hefty bills! To help navigate the issues around these costs, we asked the team at Pacific Prime to give us a better understanding of how the healthcare system works, the cost of healthcare in Singapore and what you need to factor in if you want to live here as an expat.
#1 Singapore’s healthcare sectors
In Singapore, the healthcare system is made up of two sectors: public and private. The option you choose will have a significant effect on the price you pay. It’s common for private clinics and hospitals to have a higher price range than public alternatives. However, the difference has become less steep over recent years since the two are in direct competition.
Here are some key differences between public and private hospitals:
- Wait times: It’s common to have to wait several hours after arrival for treatment in public facilities in Singapore. Private hospitals, on the other hand, often admit patients within an hour.
- Appointments: Singapore’s private hospitals have lower patient numbers, making it easier for them to accommodate most patients, whereas most public hospitals tend to operate on a “first-come, first-served” basis.
- Medical equipment: Private hospitals tend to have larger budgets to invest in equipment and treatment.
- Wards: The more expensive the ward, the more private and comfortable it’ll be. Some wards in private medical centres are even comparable to five-star hotel rooms, with plenty of amenities for patients to enjoy.
#2 Expats pay higher rates
Singapore citizens and permanent residents have access to various subsidised healthcare services through government healthcare facilities. The public health insurance system operates through Medisave and Medishield. By contributing to their Medisave account annually, Singapore citizens and permanent residents can use it to pay for routine expenses. If they end up reaching their deductible limit, they can start using the Medishield account.
Unfortunately, expats don’t enjoy these subsidies and will be charged regular high rates. While Singapore citizens and permanent residents can expect to pay between $39 to $59 for an initial visit to a specialist outpatient doctor, for example, private patients (or expats) can pay up to $150.
To ensure that you don’t need to pay everything out of your pocket when living in Singapore, buying a private health insurance plan is essential.
#3 You get what you pay for
In Singapore, you can be certain that any hospital you go to will be equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment, well-maintained facilities and highly-trained English-speaking staff. Both public and private facilities also ensure that the entire process is efficient from start to finish. All of these reasons and more are why many expats living in other parts of Asia visit Singapore for medical care. This is also why the cost of healthcare in Singapore is on the high end.
That said, there are still some differences between public and private facilities. Public hospital wards range from simple shared rooms (up to nine beds) to modest private rooms with basic amenities, while private hospital rooms (and suites) tend to be more luxurious. Some of the perks available at private facilities include:
- Private single bed occupancy
- Sofa or sofa bed
- Entertainment such as TV and DVD player
- Mini fridge
- Complimentary slippers, toiletries, towels and Wi-Fi
- Separate living room
- Automatic drapery
Private hospital room rates vary across hospitals and depend on room type. For instance, one night in a single room at Raffles Hospital and Gleneagles costs $668 and $708 respectively, while the daily rate of a suite goes for $919 and $898 respectively.
#4 The impact of location on pricing
Location is a key factor to consider when you’re choosing a clinic or hospital. Prices can vary depending on where the facility is located. A hospital in the city will have higher prices than a family clinic in the heartlands. For instance, Mount Elizabeth, which is situated in Orchard, is one of Singapore’s most expensive private hospitals.
It’s advisable to find a doctor that’s close to your home and another that’s near your office. You might want to consider finding another one near your children’s school, just in case. To save on healthcare costs, you can secure individual health insurance in Singapore for access to a wide medical network and have inpatient and outpatient expenses covered.
Handy tip: Be wary of cheap insurance plans
Again, you get what you pay for when it comes to health insurance, so don’t be enticed by health insurance plans with appealingly low premiums. These are usually too good to be true and often result in extra costs such as rejected claims. The most common risks associated with cheap health insurance plans include:
- A small network of healthcare providers
- Unpredictable premium increases
- Low limits
- Limited options for pre-existing condition coverage, or none at all
- Many exclusions
- No outpatient benefits
- Poor customer service
Need some help?
Whether you’re looking for individual health insurance or family health insurance in Singapore, consider seeking the expert advice of a reputable insurance broker. One such broker is Pacific Prime; it has a team of experts who are happy to answer insurance-related questions and help you customise the ideal insurance plan for your needs and budget. Contact Pacific Prime Singapore for advice or an obligation-free quotation.
You can also check out Pacific Prime’s State of Health Insurance Report for a deeper understanding of key insurance trends.
Read on for more about insurance and other health and fitness topics in Singapore: