When insurance companies talk about a “pre-existing condition”, all they’re really saying is that it’s a condition that you already have or had when you apply for a policy. Since insurance is all about protecting against the risk of something happening, most will decline to cover something they already know you have. Finding coverage can therefore be a real challenge, but it’s certainly possible in some cases. While there are schemes such as the Government-run MediShield Life, that covers all pre-existing conditions for an additional 30 percent higher premium over 10 years, you won’t have access unless you’re a permanent resident. So, we asked the team at APRIL International to tell us more about the options that are open to expats in Singapore.
Applying for insurance with a pre-existing condition
Different insurance companies in Singapore have varied ways of approaching pre-existing conditions, so you can also expect your experience to vary greatly depending on the insurance company and even the health insurance plan you’re considering buying. Generally speaking, if you’re looking for insurance and have a pre-existing condition, health insurance providers may offer a number of options. One of those options is to offer to cover you, but exclude the pre-existing condition. Local health insurance companies may be less likely to offer coverage than international medical insurance companies due to Singapore’s competitive insurance market.
Other options for covering your pre-existing conditions
#1 Premium loading
Some insurers will offer to agree to cover your pre-existing condition in exchange for a higher premium. This is known as a premium loading. Depending on which insurance company or plan you’re interested in, they may either offer a flat percentage increase (regardless of what pre-existing condition you have) or base it on a scale where the seriousness of your pre-existing condition determines the size of the loading the insurer will charge.
Carolina from APRIL Singapore highlights, “Thankfully our underwriting staff are doctors, so they can help to determine when loading can be applied. Members really appreciate it when it’s possible because they can enjoy full coverage!”
#2 Policies with moratoriums
Another option for getting a health insurance plan that covers pre-existing conditions is to get a moratorium policy. This basically means there is a waiting period before your plan will start covering your pre-existing conditions. The length of the moratorium or waiting period will differ from plan to plan and insurer to insurer. However, one benefit of applying for a moratorium means that the application form is comparatively short as you don’t have to fill out the full medical questionnaire.
#3 Getting your medical history disregarded
One of the best ways to get coverage for pre-existing conditions is to get your medical history disregarded. In this case, the insurer will not even ask for a medical questionnaire or waiting period. Unfortunately, this option is usually only available to group health insurance plans that cover companies or organisations.
Depending on the insurance company and their group medical product, the limit for getting medical history disregarded (often referred to as MHD) may vary across companies. With APRIL Singapore’s MyHEALTH Business plan for instance, a group as small as ten adults can apply for MHD (even if the company only has five employees, but includes their five respective spouses), so it’s not something that’s reserved for massive corporations.