It’s great that travel is opening up in a lot of countries! But, with COVID-19 still around, access to international healthcare remains as important as ever. What if you test positive or get sick while travelling overseas or in Singapore? Would health insurance cover it? We find out more from the team at Pacific Prime Singapore.
What happens when someone gets COVID-19 in Singapore?
If your COVID-19 swab test result is positive, you should wear a mask, maintain good personal hygiene, and isolate yourself in a separate room (ideally with an attached bathroom). Those who have to share a bathroom with others should wipe down surfaces with disinfectant after each use. In addition, don’t share food, crockery, utensils or other personal items.
You should also continue to monitor your temperature and symptoms. If your symptoms do worsen, call your healthcare professional. In the event of an emergency – for example, chest pain, palpitations or shortness of breath – you can dial 995 for an ambulance. Remember to inform the operator of your COVID-19 positive test result. The Ministry of Health (MOH) will contact you to arrange your transport to a healthcare facility.
Contact tracing will also be conducted to identify close contacts of confirmed cases. For those using the TraceTogether App, you’ll need to upload your TraceTogether Bluetooth proximity data as soon as you get the instructions to do so. For those using the TraceTogether Token, you’ll need to bring it with you to the healthcare facility.
Does health insurance cover COVID-19?
When the COVID-19 virus was a new and unexpected disease, most insurers treated it as a special condition that was not subjected to general exclusions (many policies exclude epidemics). That said, more and more insurers are now designing health insurance plans (and travel insurance plans) with COVID-19 in mind.
Insurers are likely to cover the following costs, up to each policy’s prescribed limits:
- Costs for diagnostic tests when requested by a medical professional
- Costs for hospital treatment, including admission into isolation wards as a result of the virus
- Cost of eligible outpatient treatment for the virus and its symptoms, as required by a medical professional
If you have international health insurance, you are also covered overseas. But, if you have a local health insurance plan, you likely won’t be covered overseas, or you’ll only receive limited cover for a short period of time (depending on the terms and conditions of your plan).
What if you’re diagnosed with the virus while overseas? You’ll likely have to seek treatment in that particular country as you won’t be fit to fly. Therefore, having international health insurance would be ideal.
Additional insurance coverage
Some insurers also offer extended coverage, such as covering all medical complications resulting from COVID-19 and medical evacuation if the necessary help isn’t available locally. Other supportive measures that some insurance providers are offering include:
- waived cost for hospital ward upgrades during COVID-19 hospitalisation;
- simplified and express claims procedures; and
- virtual consultations.
Depending on the insurer and your policy, there might be different terms and conditions attached to outpatient treatments and COVID-19. If you’re unsure, check with your insurance provider or a broker like Pacific Prime Singapore.
What about my travel plans?
If you’re planning to travel overseas, it’s advisable to speak to your insurer. Like most things in the insurance world, whether travel insurance covers COVID-19 depends on your policy terms and conditions. But, more often than not, you’ll be able to find plans that offer coverage for COVID-19, as insurers develop specialised products to meet the increasing demand for them. This is because many governments, including Singapore, now require short-term visitors to have COVID-19 insurance.
FAQs about COVID-19 insurance for travelling to Singapore
If you’re due to travel to or return to Singapore soon, here are some questions you might be asking:
#1 Who needs to get COVID-19 insurance for entry into Singapore?
If you’re a short-term visitor applying to enter Singapore via the Air Travel Pass, Reciprocal Green Lanes, and Vaccinated Travel Lanes, you’ll need to have COVID-19 insurance with a minimum coverage of S$30,000. The insurance must be purchased prior to travelling to Singapore, either from a Singapore-based or overseas insurer.
If you are a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, this mandatory travel insurance doesn’t apply to you. This is because you’ll be able to access Government subsidies and MediShield Life/Integrated Shield Plans to help pay for medical bills if you develop symptoms for COVID-19 within 14 days of your return.
#2 If I’m a long-term pass holder, will my employer buy COVID-19 insurance for me?
If you are a long-term pass holder (including Work Permit, Training Work Permit, and S Pass holders), then you’re in luck. Your employer will have to buy COVID-19 insurance for you. If you hold any other pass (including Employment Pass holders or dependants), you’re encouraged to buy health insurance with the appropriate coverage before entering Singapore, as you’ll be responsible for your own medical expenses if you develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive within 14 days of arrival in Singapore.
#3 Where can I buy COVID-19 insurance?
There are a number of insurers that offer COVID-19 insurance that meets the requirements of the Singapore government. You can buy your plan directly from the insurer or contact a reputable brokerage like Pacific Prime Singapore instead for help comparing plans across multiple insurers.
#4 What will the insurance cover?
Typically, COVID-19 insurance will need to cover:
- medical expenses;
- emergency medical evacuation;
- quarantine allowance; and
- trip cancellation
Need more help?
It goes without saying that you should be reading the fine print when looking for and comparing travel insurance plans these days. With still so much uncertainty around COVID-19, you don’t want to be put out because you misunderstood what the insurer deems to be a valid reason for trip cancellation, for instance.
First, it’s a good idea to understand how to choose the best travel insurance, and then examine your policy’s terms and conditions. If you’d like some help doing so, you can also speak to highly-trained, impartial advisors from Pacific Prime Singapore. The insurance brokerage specialises in putting together health insurance plans for individuals, families and groups.
Read on for more about insurance and other health and fitness topics in Singapore: