get started
Company Logo
get started

Health Insurance For Foreigners in Singapore - A Guide

By ieM_@dmin_@cct | 12 Sep 2022

Getting health insurance can be a confusing process for anyone, especially for those living in foreign countries. How much does coverage cost for foreigners in Singapore, and where can they get it from? It must be expensive and there can’t be that many options to choose from, right?

Not necessarily.

Getting health insurance in Singapore can be done in just a few short steps. The government has a public healthcare system for its citizens and permanent residents, but many have noted that it can be overloaded and doesn’t provide the benefits that they’re looking for.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

• Singapore’s Public Healthcare System For Foreigners

• Do foreigners in Singapore need health insurance?

• Health insurance options for foreigners in Singapore

• Integrated Shield Plans

• International Health Insurance Plans

• Health insurance for foreigners in Singapore conclusion

Singapore’s Public Healthcare System For Foreigners

Singapore has a subsidized public healthcare system set up that is available for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents. It is called MediShield Life. It works well for the people of Singapore, as it provides universal basic coverage. Many foreigners (and many Singaporeans) find the plan to be too basic though, and choose to add supplemental private health insurance to access a better standard of care.

MediShield Life is only for citizens and permanent residents of Singapore though, so most expats working in Singapore don’t qualify. The public system is paid for by the Central Provident Fund, a savings plan funded by a compulsory tax that most foreigners living in Singapore aren’t required to pay.

Even if expats could qualify, they may not want to, as the cover MediShield Life provides is limited, covering only basic procedures and medical facilities, rather than the quality of healthcare most foreigners would want in a time of need.

Do foreigners in Singapore need health insurance?

Before foreigners make their way to Singapore, they often wonder whether they’ll need to buy health insurance or if it will be provided for them. It’s no surprise expats may think coverage would be provided for them, as Singapore is famously one of the most prosperous countries in the world. However, higher average incomes means higher costs, including healthcare costs.

Private healthcare coverage is the solution for foreigners in Singapore. With private coverage, you can always see a good doctor and access treatment at short notice.

Foreigners in Singapore with some types of work visas will receive coverage as part of their employment package, but these plans often have lower limits on the cost of treatment, so to be safe it’s better to have a private plan, too.

Whether you qualify for the public healthcare plan, get employer-provided private coverage, or you get your own, everyone living in Singapore needs health insurance.

Health insurance options for foreigners in Singapore

Integrated Shield Plans

While you may not qualify directly for the state-sponsored MediShield Life Plan, foreigners in Singapore can still buy Integrated Shield Plans from insurance companies, as long as they have a valid work visa. Integrated Shield Plans are the private, supplemental insurance plans that can be sold with MediShield Life or without, the only difference being that as a foreigner, you won’t receive the subsidized part of your healthcare costs.

Benefits of Integrated Shield Plans

Integrated Shield Plans are sold in a tier-based system, so the more you pay the better the coverage you get. 

One of the main benefits of Integrated Shield Plans as health insurance for foreigners in Singapore is their affordability. For example, a healthy 35-year-old man can expect annual premiums between $600 and $700. If you want to pay for your out-of-pocket expenses upfront and cover deductibles before your visit, you can add a rider to your plan as well, although this can increase the premium significantly (by up to 700%).

Integrated Shield Plans provide basic cover, but it isn’t perfect. Before enrolling, expats should familiarize themselves with what isn’t covered, too. 

Disadvantages of Integrated Shield Plans

Most Integrated Shield Plans only cover treatment within Singapore itself, or have limited overseas cover if they do, so they aren’t often the best solution for foreigners who travel. Riders can help minimize the cost of co-payments and deductibles to a degree, but you’ll have to spend more on your premium, and you still won’t normally get all the benefits included under an private international plan.

Another downside of Integrated Shield Plans is that cover is limited to in-patient treatment.  In other words, you can only claim if you have been warded in a hospital or receive certain types of day treatment.  So a typical visit to the GP or specialist would not be covered, including receiving treatment for a broken arm or leg if hospitalization was not involved.

The last facet of Integrated Shield Plans that foreigners in Singapore should be aware of is that it can’t follow you if you move on to live and work in another country.  Not having portable health insurance means you’ll need a fresh health assessment and so exposes you to insurability risk if you develop an ailment before you move.

Integrated Shield Plans are typically a good option for foreigners on a budget who don't need coverage outside of Singapore and are only looking for basic hospitalization coverage.

International Health Insurance Plans

International medical insurance plans provide comprehensive health insurance coverage for foreigners in Singapore, providing superior benefits if you should need to claim. International health insurance is a good way to make sure you’re covered no matter what happens or where in the world you are.

Benefits of International Health Insurance

The cost of living in Singapore is high and getting medical services without the proper insurance coverage can be costly if something happens. International insurance caters to every foreigner’s unique situation and ensures expats avoid waiting in line to get good quality service, wherever they are in the world and whatever the situation.

International health insurance plans for foreigners in Singapore have higher limits on the costs of treatment than most employer provided plans, and provide maternity benefits that Shield plans don’t cover.

Disadvantages of International Health Insurance

Private insurance often costs more, in return for offering superior protection for you and your family in times of need.

Health Insurance For Foreigners in Singapore Conclusion

Whether you’re a foreigner looking to obtain permanent residential status in Singapore or an expat working in Singapore for a year or two, getting health insurance can be simple. You have options, and a specialist health insurance broker will help you obtain the best solution based on your needs. However, ensure you speak with a broker who is licensed for both Shield and International medical insurance plans so you can compare all options and get the result that is right for you.

Singapore provides the national MediShield Life program to citizens and permanent residents, and gives them the ability to add supplemental insurance through Integrated Shield Plans. The Integrated Shield Plans aren’t just for residents though, as foreigners can buy into the plans through private insurance companies as well, although these plans do have limitations and drawbacks.

Private insurance is often the right option for those who want comprehensive coverage or who don’t qualify for Singapore’s state program.

Private international insurance is the best way to make sure you have the exact coverage you need based on your unique situation.

International Expat Medical is a leading specialist private health insurance advisor for foreigners in Singapore. IEM is licensed for both Shield and International health plans.


Related Articles

Featured Articles

Unbiased solutions to your insurance needs

Contact one of our experienced licensed consultants to reap the value IEM provides.
get started