Singapore is one of the world’s safest and cleanest cities, and it has some of the best hospitals too. Of course, that doesn’t mean any of us want to actually go to them! Unfortunately, we can’t avoid hospitalisation for certain medical issues. We list six of them here, and we also consider some facts and figures around insurance – so important in a place where staying and getting treated in a hospital can be very costly.
For years, pneumonia has been one of the top reasons for hospitalisation in Singapore. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), it accounted for more than 3% of hospitalisation cases in 2018.
Virus outbreaks beyond Singapore also place us at risk as the country welcomes many tourists all year round. A good example is the pneumonia-like Wuhan coronavirus. During pandemics like these, it’s important to be socially responsible and look out for symptoms, especially when you’ve been travelling.
#2 Acute upper respiratory infections
Acute upper respiratory infections are infections that occur in the trachea (windpipe), throat, pharynx, larynx, sinuses and nose. While these are often not as serious as pneumonia – they include illnesses like common cold and sinusitis – in some cases an infection can worsen, leading to a hospital visit.
If you’re living in Southeast Asia for the first time, your immune system may be more susceptible to these infections. Your body can take time to adapt to the pathogen strains in this part of the world. If you come down with an infection, drink a lot of water, get enough rest and visit a doctor if necessary.
Diabetes is a common health condition in Singapore, with the country having the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations (The Straits Times).
According to the MOH, a study in 2018 showed that every additional 250 millilitres serving of sugar-sweetened beverages daily increases individuals’ risk of diabetes by as much as 26 per cent (Asian population). This increased risk has also been seen in the US and Europe (Journal of Diabetes Investigation). To curb diabetes cases, the Singapore Government has announced plans to ban ads for sugary drinks in Singapore.
#4 Intestinal infectious diseases
Singapore is known to be clean, but there are some food places that are cleaner than others. Your stomach may also not be used to the bacteria here when you first arrive. Unclean food isn’t the only cause of intestinal infectious diseases though; they can also be transmitted by consuming contaminated drinks, using contaminated cutlery, touching contaminated surfaces or even having contact with an infected person. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain.
#5 Skin infections
Conditions like eczema are common in Singapore. In 2017 alone, there were over 18,000 new cases. The hot and humid weather in Singapore can cause excessive perspiration, making the skin more susceptible. Eczema can affect quality of life, and in certain cases there can be complications, severe flare-ups and even fatal consequences.
#6 Road accidents
- Speeding (719 cases)
- Drink driving (176 cases)
- Running red lights (120 cases)
Paying your hospital bills
As an expat, you don’t have access to subsidised medical care in public hospitals. You’ll likely need to go to a private medical centre – and they are expensive. Prices vary amongst hospitals, with most stays starting above $500 per night. For example, daily room rates (single bed) at Mount Alvernia are around $570, while Mount Elizabeth and Gleneagles Hospital charge $728 and $708 respectively. Surgery costs extra, too. For instance, in-patient treatment and surgery for an upper limb fracture in a private hospital starts from $6,500 (MOH).
To ensure that you won’t need to pay out of your own pocket, get covered by health insurance. You may also want to consider getting a family health plan for expats. And, if you are a frequent traveller, check if your plan covers you when you’re overseas.
Read on for more about insurance and other health and fitness topics in Singapore: