In the expat teaching community, Singapore is often seen to be one of the best places to teach. With a sizeable expat population, a high standard of English, great food, ease of travel, a generally affordable cost of living, and a wealth of international schools, it really is a dream come true for many seasoned teachers.
While Singapore is an impeccably clean and modern city, there is always a chance that you will get sick or worse, hurt. Being a teacher with your busy schedules (can you say lesson plans), you especially do not want this to happen. The thing is, you are going to eventually need to see a doctor in Singapore. Ask around, and your co-workers will be able to share their personal experiences with the high costs associated with out of pocket hospital or doctor costs.
Because of this, you need to ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage that will offset any costs. While many international schools offer health insurance, it simply may not be enough to meet your needs. The question is, how can you determine this before you actually need to use it? Here are five questions you should ask your school or health insurance provider about your health insurance plan.
1. Are pre-existing or chronic conditions covered?
Many of the insurance plans found in International schools will not explicitly cover pre-existing conditions. While this will vary by school and by plan, if you have a medical condition that started before your health insurance coverage kicks in, treatment related to it may not be covered by the plan.
Because every plan, even those offered by the same insurance provider, has different limitations regarding pre-existing and chronic conditions, it would be a good idea to check how your plan treats these conditions.
2. What level of coverage does the plan offer?
Many insurance providers in Singapore offer different levels of plans. The majority of them, especially international health insurance plans, can be broken into three basic levels of coverage:
- Inpatient – Covers treatment that requires hospitalisation. This level of plan usually covers all elements of treatment to the coverage limit once you have been admitted to the hospital.
- Inpatient + outpatient – Covers treatment both in and out of the hospital. This level of plan includes elements of the previously mentioned level, along with treatments that don’t necessarily happen in the hospital e.g., clinics, physio, etc.
- Inpatient + outpatient + maternity – Combines the coverage elements of the two plans above with maternity coverage.
The elements included in every plan will be different. For example some inpatient+outpatient plans will cover chronic conditions, while others won’t. Some will also have higher claim limits, or deductibles and moratoriums – time that must pass on the plan before certain health issues will be covered. It is therefore important to be 100% clear on what is, and isn’t covered in your plan.
3. If I move schools, will my existing health insurance cover me?
Most health insurance plans offered to teachers by schools have a set start and end date. While coverage typically lasts one year, some schools may have a stipulation that they will terminate insurance coverage on the last day of your contract.
This means that if you are leaving at the end of the school year, and starting at a new school after the winter/summer break, you may not be covered by your old school’s plan during the switch. Should something happen, you will be required to pay for any medical costs out of pocket.
You probably don’t want your break ruined by these potential costs, so it would be a good idea to know the coverage dates of your plan!
4. Do I have coverage for medical care outside of Singapore?
Talk to any expat teacher in Singapore and chances are they spend a good amount of time traveling. If you get sick in another country and see a doctor, health insurance plans often won’t cover some of the costs related to medical care outside of Singapore. Therefore, you should be clear exactly what your plan covers when you are outside of Singapore, as unexpected medical bills can be the quickest way to ruin your hard-earned vacation.
5. Are dependents covered?
Many expat teachers in Singapore have moved overseas with significant others or families. As such, some schools offer coverage for dependents, while others may not. If you are moving with your family or partner, you should be clear on whether they will be covered by your plan or not.
What if I don’t like the answers to the above questions?
Simply put, having adequate health insurance is important. If the plan your school offers is enough to cover your needs, great! If not, you have a number of options at your disposal. The problem is actually finding a plan or plan add-ons that not only offer coverage you need, but are available at premiums within your budget.
One solution is to talk to the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore. With a finger on the health insurance pulse & a unique understanding of the top international schools in town, their insurance experts can help you find the plan that fits your needs. Contact them today for a no obligation quote. It could save your life – kidding/not kidding.