Whether you’re a newcomer or have been living in Singapore for a number of years, chances are you or a family member is eventually going to need to see a doctor. While Singapore is world-renowned for its advanced healthcare system, costs can be pretty steep. Health insurance is therefore imperative. But it isn’t always easy finding the right coverage – especially when there are countless plans to choose from. Here, the team from Pacific Prime Singapore discusses the top five expat health insurance options available to help you make an informed decision.
#1 Medishield Life
Medishield Life, a basic health insurance scheme administered by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board, primarily covers large hospital bills and costly outpatient treatments at public facilities (for example, kidney dialysis). If you’re a Permanent Resident (PR) or Singaporean Citizen, you’ll be automatically enrolled, regardless of age or pre-existing conditions. Expats are therefore highly advised to get private cover.
#2 Employer-provided health insurance
Most expats in Singapore will have health insurance that’s sponsored by their employer. Many plans feature the Medical History Disregard (MHD) clause, meaning pre-existing conditions are covered as long as they’re not explicitly excluded in the policy T&Cs. This is a major advantage of employer-provided health plans. That said, MHD is not available in all plans, so it’s always important to be aware of your policy’s specific benefits.
Another thing to watch out for is whether your employer-provided plan fits with your healthcare needs. Every plan is different, some may exclude certain benefits. These are some of the most common coverage exclusions to watch out for:
- Singapore-only coverage
- No outpatient benefits
- No dental and maternity benefits
- Limited network of doctors and specialists
- No preventative care benefits
- No wellness benefits
In instances like this, consider purchasing top-up health insurance to supplement the policy.
#3 Local health insurance
If you don’t have employer-provided health insurance or access to public healthcare subsidies, consider securing local health insurance. This option only covers care in Singapore, although some may offer limited coverage for short overseas trips.
While local plans tend to be cheaper than international ones, there are some drawbacks to this type of plan. For example, local plans are usually renewable upon mutual agreement, meaning the insurer can decide to refuse renewing your policy if you develop a serious condition during your policy period.
#4 International health insurance
Designed to cover policyholders on a worldwide basis, international health insurance plans are ideal for frequent travellers and globally mobile expats. They tend to feature higher coverage limits and a wider range of benefits in your country of residence, ensuring you have access to the highest quality care possible.
While this health insurance option is generally more costly than local ones, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. They are typically guaranteed lifetime renewable and offer more options for pre-existing condition coverage (for example, via an additional premium or waiting period).
#5 Travel insurance
Those with local health insurance will likely want to secure travel insurance when travelling overseas. The medical aspect of travel plans typically covers costs associated with emergency medical care outside your country of residence, but coverage limits tend to be considerably lower than the limits featured in international health insurance plans. The non-medical portion of travel insurance plans include protection against travel-related mishaps such as cash payouts for flight delays and cancellations.
Choosing the appropriate health insurance option depends on your specific situation, such as your residency status, whether you have adequate employer-provided health insurance and your healthcare needs.
Read more in our Health & Fitness section!