In a survey by HSBC, Singapore ranked as the number one location in the world for expats. With plentiful job opportunities, a stable economy and great schools, it’s certainly a place that has much to offer to families. Even if you don’t have children when you arrive, once you’ve settled down, you may soon start thinking of growing a family. Here, Alejandra Perez Coria, Head of Sales & Renewals at Pacific Prime Singapore, answers those essential and frequently asked questions about giving birth in Singapore, and about the all-important issue of maternity insurance.
#1 Why do I need maternity insurance?
As an expat in Singapore, you will not be entitled to the benefits of government subsidies as well as the local health insurance system (namely Medisave and Medishield). Citizens and Permanent Residents of Singapore are required to make a monthly contribution to their Medisave accounts, which can be used to cover most healthcare costs. As a foreigner, you’ll need to pay the full price for any healthcare you receive, including delivering a baby.
#2 How much does it cost to give birth in Singapore?
Singapore has long been one of the top countries in the region (if not the world) for medical care. The country also ranked 6th for healthcare according to the 2017 version of the Expat Explorer by HSBC. That said, healthcare often comes at a high price (particularly for foreigners!).
Prices for major medical procedures and treatments are published on the Ministry of Heath website and these are updated regularly. The average cost paid by 75% of patients at private hospitals for a normal birth range from S$8,326 to S$11,849, while a Caesarean section costs from S$12,296 to S$18,912 (accurate as of 2 October 2017). You can anticipate similar prices at a government hospital if you’re not a Citizen or Permanent Resident.
#3 How do I get maternity insurance?
As an expat, it’s important to cover medical costs with a health insurance plan. Note that maternity cover cannot be bought as standalone coverage, but instead has to be purchased as an add-on to a health insurance plan.
#4 What does it cover?
The insurance covers prenatal care such as doctor’s visits and scans, as well as the delivery (your hospital stay and treatment for any complications).
Depending on your needs, you should choose between local or international cover. Local cover only works only within Singapore, while international cover extends to the region or globally. Both plans have maternity cover, but local cover has a fairly low claims limit. You might still end up paying a considerable amount for birth or maternity-related care out of your own pocket. International plans tend to have higher levels of coverage, not to mention that they will likely include coverage in your home country should you decide to return home to have the baby.
#5 What should I take note of?
Regardless of the type of cover you select, be aware that all insurers will have a time period in which you need to have the plan for before you’re able to make maternity claims. Most insurers have a waiting period of 10 to 12 months, while others may have even longer ones.
The level of care at all hospitals in Singapore is generally very high, but you can expect to see some variations across them. Some hospitals are better prepared to attend to maternity care and complications than others; others may not be as well-equipped, meaning that you may be transferred to another hospital in the event of a medical emergency.
For example, Mount Alvernia (private) and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospitals (public) are the two most popular hospitals according to the number of births in 2016 and 2017. Both invest heavily in maternity care and have a huge team of paediatric experts. It’s therefore important to do your research and speak with your doctor about the best hospital for you.
Looking for more?
Pacific Prime Singapore recently published a handy guide on maternity insurance, covering the following:
- The best hospitals for maternity
- The cost of giving birth in Singapore
- Important maternity insurance terms
- The ins and outs of maternity insurance
- Zika and maternity insurance implications
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