Healthcare statistics in Singapore are reassuring for expats. The country boasts one of the healthiest populations in the world, with its residents enjoying the third highest life expectancy worldwide. This is largely due to the fantastic healthcare system – the second best on the planet, according to 2017 rankings. Hospitals and clinics (both public and private) offer high-quality care, state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained doctors. All of this comes at cost. In fact, medical prices in Singapore can be exorbitant. So what are your options to ensure your healthcare costs are covered? One of the biggest choices you’ll need to make is whether to opt for a local or international health insurance plan. To make that decision a little easier, we asked the APRIL International team to tell us more about the differences between the two.
#1 Consider the price
Expats aren’t entitled to the benefits of the government-run health insurance system, including Medifund and Medishield Life. You will need to purchase your own private health insurance plan instead. The biggest advantage of local health insurance policies in Singapore is the lower price. Premiums are often calculated according to the number of claims that have been made by the patient; so, for healthy people, it can be very cheap.
However, there’s a reason for the significant price difference between local and international health insurance. With a local plan, there are usually many caps and limitations for medical expenses. You may pay a low premium in the first place, but have to pay part of your expenses out of your own pocket if your plan only covers you up to a certain limit, or requires you to pay a certain percentage.
#2 Coverage outside Singapore
If you regularly travel abroad, whether it’s for business or leisure, you’ll need to be well covered. With a local plan, you most likely won’t be covered outside of Singapore, or coverage will be extremely limited. Instead, you’ll have to purchase travel insurance for each trip. An international health insurance plan will cover you wherever you go, and you’ll be able to enjoy the same level of cover as in Singapore.
#3 Repatriation and emergency evacuation
If you face a medical issue while travelling, international insurance companies will provide you with medical assistance services. They can, for instance, recommend medical practitioners or advise you on your condition. If the country’s medical facilities are inadequate for your condition, your insurer will arrange to have you repatriated to your home country or to the nearest suitable location for treatment. For frequent travellers, this can definitely bring you some peace of mind!
#4 Cashless payment of medical bills
International insurers generally have a network of hospitals where your bills can be settled directly, so you won’t need to pay any of your medical fees in advance. Local health insurance companies, on the other hand, will typically require you to first pay for the treatment and then be reimbursed by the local insurance company. This feature is one of the greatest advantages of international plans. Hospital bills can quickly mount up to many thousands of dollars – definitely something that you don’t want to be paying out of your own pocket in a hurry.
#5 Geographic portability
If you need to relocate outside Singapore, many international private insurance policies offer a “portability” option. This feature allows you to keep the same insurance plan in your new country of residence without going through the underwriting process. You’ll be able to avoid having any medical issues you’ve been treated for in Singapore being considered as pre-existing conditions by an insurance company in your new country of residence. In addition, as waiting periods are often imposed on new policies for benefits such as maternity, adding newborns to the policy or even dental treatments, keeping the same plan means you can enjoy the same benefits without any limitations or delays.
Looking for private health insurance in Singapore?
MyHEALTH, April International’s insurance plan for individuals and families, offers the following benefits for you and your family:
- Fully flexible plan that can be tailored to your needs
- 24/7 medical and emergency assistance
- Direct payment of hospital charges in Singapore and around the world
- Geographic portability
Written in collaboration with: