Singapore is one of the healthiest countries in the world, consistently appearing in the top five countries for life expectancy. However, its national healthcare system has slipped down the rankings over the last few years, from number 1 down to number 15 in 2022. This, along with other factors such as wanting access to a wider range of treatments, mean that many expats in Singapore (of whom there are over 1.5 million) are turning to private health insurance options.
The first step towards finding private health insurance as an expat in Singapore is understanding the options that are available to you. Let’s take a look:
Medishield Life is Singapore’s national healthcare system, as all Singapore citizens and permanent residents (which may include some expats, depending on their residency visa status) are automatically enrolled through compulsory contributions to a national savings plan.
If you’re enrolled in Medishield Life, you’ll receive subsidized treatment in government-run hospitals and clinics, although you may still have to pay something. In general, treatment is good but not comparable to being treated privately. This means that many expats who are eligible for Medishield Life due to having a permanent residency visa still choose to buy private health insurance. One option, if you are eligible, is to buy an Integrated Shield Plan, which is a type of ‘top up’ insurance that allows you to access a wider range of treatments compared to Medishield Life
Many expats in Singapore receive health insurance cover as part of their employment package.
Employers arrange corporate health insurance cover for their workforce as an employment perk; however, these plans often have low cost limits if treatment is needed, and there are also limitations in terms of what treatments are covered.
For example, corporate health plans for expats in Singapore often exclude maternity, dental, and outpatient benefits, or cover for family members.
Most expats in Singapore benefit from obtaining a personal private health insurance plan, and there are two options : local and international plans.
Local private healthcare plans refer to private plans that only cover you for treatment in Singapore. If you don’t travel abroad, this could be the right option, however most expats do travel; furthermore, local plans don’t offer reimbursement for outpatient care.
International private health insurance plans for expats in Singapore provide the optimum level of cover available. They have higher coverage limits, include coverage when you travel, and flexibility to allow you to choose exactly what cover you want included.
They also typically don’t have restrictions on healthcare providers, provide maternity cover, and may be available even if you have pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, if you move abroad, you can take your policy with you.
Here are some of the main considerations when looking for private health insurance:
This means that you’ll always be able to renew your policy, even if you’ve claimed or if your circumstances have changed.
There are numerous healthcare providers in Singapore (and abroad), both government-owned and private. You ideally want to be covered for treatment at any provider.
You should aim to ensure that you’re covered whatever happens, rather than risk having a bill to pay despite having coverage.
Find out which types of treatment are and aren’t included in your plan.
These are just a few examples of treatments and scenarios that you should find out about. Dental and outpatient treatments are particularly important, whereas some of the others may be desirable too, depending on your situation.
If you have a pre-existing or chronic condition at the moment, it’s important to check whether a policy will provide cover for your pre-existing or chronic condition, or should you discover such a condition after you already have a policy, that you will still be covered when it’s time to renew.
Expats in Singapore should discuss their requirements and options with a specialist private health insurance broker to ensure they get the right level and type of cover.
International Expat Medical’s team of experts are expats too, so we understand, and as specialists we are able to check the entire market.