Find the Best Health Insurance in Singapore
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S ure, healthcare in Singapore ranks right up there with the best available anywhere on planet Earth – but it definitely comes at a cost.
Citizens of Singapore as well as Permanent Residents (designated as PRs) are automatically enrolled in the mandatory nationalized health insurance program Singapore calls MediShield.
This nationalized program works to subsidize a lot of the medical fees individuals would have had to pay out-of-pocket otherwise, and even includes dispensation and coverage for treatment from specialists as well as hospital and emergency accommodations.
Of course, individuals that are working in Singapore or studying in Singapore without official citizenship or the PR designation do not qualify for these programs.
They have to shop for their own health insurance while in Singapore, and even a lot of people that have MediShield protection choose to purchase private insurance (aka integrated shield plan) on top of that basic plan to lower their out-of-pocket costs significantly.
The trouble is finding the best medical insurance in Singapore becomes a bit of an uphill battle.
Not because there are so few top-quality options in Singapore to pick and choose from when it comes to health insurance, but because there are so many!
Combine that with the disparate types of plans and coverage you may or may not have with a specific plan as well as the different prices you’ll find on the open market it is easy to see why so many people have a tough time with this critical investment in their health and wellness.
Below we aim to shed a little bit of extra light on the subject so that you know exactly what you are getting into when you shop for health insurance in Singapore.
Use the inside information in this quick guide to inform your research and your decisions, speeding the process up and helping you feel confident that you have your short and long-term health care needs covered with these insurance plans.
Let’s jump right in!
What is MediShield Life?
What is MediShield Life Cover?
Why is Health Insurance Important?
Understanding the Singapore Health Insurance Landscape
As we highlighted above, private and public health insurance options are available to most people in Singapore – especially citizens and PRs.
The public healthcare option, MediShield, provides access at government run hospitals and medical clinics with overall treatment costs that are significantly lower than what you’ll find at privatized clinics and operations that deal almost exclusively with private healthcare providers.
Private health insurance, the other hand, is available to every single individual in Singapore – citizen, PR, and foreigner alike.
Some of these private health insurance plans are similar in nature to Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) platforms in the United States, with others operating like Health Savings Account (HSA) programs that exist in the US as well.
In fact, the government has a mandatory MediSave program for employers in Singapore that have to contribute at least a portion of payroll expenses to a nationalized medical savings account to keep costs low across the board.
Citizens, PRs, and foreigners can all take advantage of this nationalized savings account for some discounts on their care (depending on specific circumstances).
The Truth About MediShield Life
On the surface, there’s a lot to fall in love with when it comes to everything MediShield Life – the most basic health insurance available (and provided to) every Singaporean as well as every Permanent Residence.
Run by the Singapore Ministry of Health, everyone enrolled in this plan receives immediate basic protection and coverage from this health insurance platform from the moment they are born right on through the rest of their life.
A mandatory program, MediShield enrollment is 100% compulsory for every single Singapore citizen and PR. There’s no option to opt and or opt out, no option to apply, and no waiver you can use to “get out” of this program.
When you become a citizen (at birth or as a naturalized citizen later in life) or a Permanent Resident you are immediately and instantly “in”.
As far as nationalized healthcare is concerned, the MediShield Life program is one of the best on the planet. Every single hospitalization bill expense is almost completely covered with this program.
Designed to help people avoid the kind of financial emergency that can be caused by a healthcare catastrophe or emergency hospital visit, there recently was a story in Straits Times describing how the MediShield Life insurance guaranteed an elderly Singapore man with a hospital bill of just north of $4400 paid only $4.50 total.
On the flipside, the MediShield program does not provide any coverage whatsoever when it comes to visits with your General Practitioner (GP). This program is merely designed as a safety net against gigantic hospital bills but is not intended to be a substitute or wholesale replacement for what private insurance, medical savings accounts, and integrated shield plans can provide.
Thankfully though, MediShield provide services without any limitation to pre-existing conditions and exists for you as a citizen or a PR for the entirety of your life. You could walk into any hospital in Singapore confidently knowing that your healthcare will be taken care of without having to worry about a skyhigh bill following you when you are released.
MediShield Life – The Details
Every individual has an annual claim limit that is capped out at $100,000 per year. There’s absolutely no lifetime cap on claims whatsoever, which means you can use up to $100,000 a year every single year if you had to without restriction.
Deductibles are calculated based almost entirely on your age, with individual deductibles that have to be paid each and every year to remain current with the MediShield Life platform. Individuals that are 80 years old or younger will have to pay a yearly deductible of either $1500 (Class C designated) or $2000 (Class B2 and Above designated) to take advantage of the coverage they have available through the plan.
Once these annual deductibles are met they can continue to go to the hospital and get care without having to continue to pay these out-of-pocket costs. Visit a hospital in January, pay a $1500 or $2000 deductible straightaway, and you can visit the hospital for the rest of the year with no out-of-pocket deductible costs – as long as you keep your claims to under $100,000 for the year.
On top of your deductible, the Ministry of Health may also have you pay a percentage of your claimable amount of health care that is dependent entirely on your insurance co-payments.
This payment could be anywhere between 3% and 10%, depending on how big your hospital bill is – with the bigger hospital bills having a lower coinsurance payable percentage. Claimable healthcare costs are between zero dollars and $5000 will have a coinsurance payment that sits at 10%. $5001-$10,000 will be charged at a 5% rate. Lastly, greater than $10,000 in claimable healthcare will be billed out at a 3% insurance co-payment rate.
Individuals that are designated as Class B2/C wards may have limits placed on their MediShield Life plan as far as how much this nationalized program will pay for each individual procedure. A number of charts and documents through the Ministry of Health website can help you better understand how these limits may be doled out, and are well worth reviewing should you fall under this designation.
You can find those details and more right here.
The Benefits (and Drawbacks) of Private Health Insurance Plans
Obviously, the MediShield Life program offers a fantastic amount of coverage for a very affordable price tag – so long as you are visiting nationalized hospitals or clinics that offer services under this umbrella of protection.
As you’ll remember, we mentioned earlier that the MediShield Life program will not offer health insurance protection or benefits when you visit your General Practitioner and may not offer protection or benefits when you are visiting specific medical specialists.
This means that if you want to use the MediShield Life health insurance for anything less than a medical emergency you’ll likely spend a lot of time waiting around at the hospital, waiting for appointments to open up with medical experts in covered facilities, and generally waiting… and waiting… and waiting.
The delay in receiving healthcare with fantastic coverage like this – simply because so many other people in Singapore are leveraging these same services – is the biggest downside to moving forward with MediShield Life only.
With private health insurance, however, you don’t have to worry about that delay as much.
Instead, you’re able to move forward with private health insurance plans that offer you ancillary coverage to your MediShield Life program with the ability to visit a GP or medical specialist outside of the nationalized service network – all without having to spend a mountain of money out-of-pocket on your healthcare.
This means you’ll get faster care, but it also means you’ll be able to take advantage of care for medical experts and doctors that you are able to build real relationships with. You’ll be able to pick and choose the doctors you want working on you, analyzing your health, and diagnosing any of the conditions you may have to contend with moving forward.
That just isn’t possible when you’re moving forward with the MediShield Life program alone. With that approach – in the nationalized hospital and clinic network – you just sort of get whatever doctor is available that anyone your point and time and may never see that doctor again in the future.
Of course, private insurance is always going to be more expensive than simply moving forward with the nationalized plan provided to all Singapore citizens and PRs. You can shop around to get affordable prices for this extra and ancillary coverage for sure, but there aren’t any “free” private insurance plans that you’ll be able to connect with.
That’s the big downside of private plans, for sure – but it should be anything but a dealbreaker.
How to Compare Health Insurance in Singapore
The hunt for quality private insurance in Singapore is going to require you getting really clear about what your expectations are, what your needs are, and what your budget looks like.
For starters, there are a multitude of different health insurance packages you can purchase from health insurance companies in Singapore – including, but not limited to:
- Medical Expense Insurance
- Hospital Cash Insurance
- Critical Illness Health Insurance
- Disability Income Protection
- Long-Term Care Health Insurance
… and that only barely begins to scratch the surface of the options you’ll be able to pick and choose from.
Health Insurance Expectations
Right out of the gate, you need to figure out what your expectations are for the types of things you’d like your insurance to cover.
Usually this requires taking a hard look at your health and wellness as it sits right now, the odds of you having to take advantage of health insurance in the short and long-term, and figuring out just how much risk you are comfortable with moving forward with lower insurance packages – or how much extra money you’re willing to spend to be covered from top to bottom.
Health Insurance Needs
This is a bit of a deeper dive into the specifics of the kind of coverage you’ll need to take advantage of, specifically focusing on the type of health care networks you’d like access to, the kind of practitioners you’d like to work with going forward, and the kinds of specialists that you may have to see in the future.
All of this will have a huge influence on the private health insurance you end up taking advantage of Singapore. The last thing you want to do is pay extra for premium care only to discover that you won’t be able to visit the practitioners or the specialists you’d hoped to because they were “out-of-network”.
It’s possible to spend anywhere between $$500 all the way up to S$2000 or more per year on private health insurance, though the average cost of insurance sits at just about S$1000-S$1500 per annum.
If you’re dealing with a tight budget you’ll obviously want to look for quality coverage that may not include quite everything you are hoping for.
If you’re working with a much bigger health insurance budget, however – or can find ways to shift resources around to cover extra annual expenses – it may be worth investing in something a little more complete (securing upwards of S$1 million in expenses coverage, for example.
Integrated Shield Plan Comparison
Now that we’ve covered some of the basics of leveraging the MediShield insurance platform as well as the benefits and drawbacks of private insurance, it’s time to dig a little deeper into everything that the best integrated shield plan in Singapore today bring to the table.
AIA HealthShield GoldMax
AIA integrated shield plan is one of the most frequently recommended ancillary/private health insurance packages available, the coolest thing about this AIA HealthShield GoldMax protection is that it works hand-in-hand with the MediShield Life platform to provide you with top to bottom coverage tough to beat with any other option.
This coverage is specifically advantageous for younger generations as well as those that want coverage for care provided by private hospitals or A/B1 designated wards in public hospitals throughout Singapore.
You’ll also find AIA HealthShield GoldMax coverage provides protection for organ transplantation (covering both insured and noninsured donors), protection for congenital abnormalities, as well as the unique benefit of emergency medical assistance overseas should you have an emergency while traveling.
Another popular program for younger individuals (particularly those that are thinking about starting a family soon), this Aviva MyShield plan complements the MediShield Life package while providing private as well as public hospital coverage for up to $1 million per year.
Discounted premium packages are available for children if both parents are taking advantage of Aviva MyShield plans (Plan I or Plan II), with 100% free Shield coverage for newborn babies all the way up until they become six months old.
Class A and Class BI designated wards in public hospitals are covered under the umbrella of this coverage. Accident and emergency department treatment options are available, living organ transplant costs of up to $50,000 are covered, and you get extra protection for preventative surgeries and community hospital healthcare, too.
Individuals that have a slightly bigger budget for their Singapore healthcare/health insurance may want to look closer into everything that AXA Shield packages provide.
While the cost of benefits for those that are going to be visiting public hospitals more frequently than not aren’t all that fantastic (and those looking for higher psychiatric benefits may want to look elsewhere as well), individuals looking for private hospital packages and plans will find AXA Shield has them covered completely.
On top of that, AXA Shield coverage is great for those that want to take advantage of extended pre-and post hospitalization coverage options. Private home care solutions are available, too. You’ll even find care for treatments like stem cell transplants, gamma knife solutions, pregnancy and childbirth solutions, congenital abnormalities, ICU assistance, and more as part and parcel of these AXA Shield insurance options.
Great Eastern SupremeHealth
Routinely advertised as a very sensible addition to your MediShield Life mandatory insurance, you’ll find that the Great Eastern packages – including the Supreme Health package highlighted here – are very affordable, comprehensive, and offer wide sweeping benefits you’ll have a tough time finding anywhere else at these price points.
Individuals and small families looking to take advantage of quality private health insurance on a budget, those looking to maximize their overall health coverage, and those that really want to get the most “bang for their buck” will fall in love with the affordable Great Eastern offers available.
Younger people, as well as those that are looking for inexpensive B1 designated plans with full and top to bottom coverage may not love everything about Great Eastern Supreme Health solutions – but for the most part this is a rock solid option with good coverage and affordable annual prices.
Families that want to avoid having to spend a mountain of money on quality health insurance premiums, without having to cut corners when it comes to coverage at the same time, will find that this NTUC IncomeShield program is an attractive alternative for sure.
Providing affordable public hospitals solutions as well as B2 designated ward plans with full coverage for both, the odds are pretty good that one of the four individual plans from the NTUC IncomeShield scheme are going to suit your needs right down to the ground.
Premium packages are generally priced between 10% and 20% below the average cost of private health insurance in Singapore, with some of their plans offering discounted costs of anywhere between 20% and 50%. That’s tough to beat when you are a family working with a tight budget looking to make sure that everyone has high-quality coverage across the board.
Private health clinics and hospital protection isn’t all that great with this NTUC IncomeShield scheme, however, and seniors that are looking for something a little more robust and tailored to their specific healthcare needs later in life may want to look elsewhere as well.
Young people that are generally pretty healthy, pretty fit, and without a lot of fear for expensive or long-term hospital stays anytime in the near future looking for a little bit of extra protection at the same time will find the Prudential PruShield packages perfectly suited to their needs and their budget.
These plans offer a lot of value (three different plans are available under the Prudential PruShield scheme) without a premium price tag attached for the most part. Generous coverage options with significantly higher than average annual expense limits (as well as long-term pre-and post hospitalization coverage and protection) are just part and parcel of these Prudential PruShield plans.
Full hospitalization, surgery, and a variety of different miscellaneous benefits (including international emergency medical treatment services) are all available through this health insurance program.
Seniors, families, and those that expect to have to take advantage of more specialized medical care (and potentially longer-term medical care) will probably find private eyes health options elsewhere on the market better suited to their specific needs.
Raffles Health Insurance
The Raffles Health Insurance health insurance packages used to be amongst some of the very best of the best in Singapore as far as private health insurance is concerned, but a change to the way that the company handles their full rider policies implemented back in 2018 has downgraded this health insurance provider quite a bit.
New insurance policies created with Raffles Health Insurance are going to find their annual deductible capped at $3000 a year, but individual insurers can actually set higher thresholds that may raise your overall costs even more so. On top of that, the $3000 per year cap is now only applicable if individuals take advantage of healthcare services from doctors that are actually on the Raffles Health Insurance panel.
According to health insurance industry watchdogs, this change to the way that Raffles Health Insurance conducts business can end up costing you anywhere between $500 and $800 per $10,000 of healthcare you receive at a hospital. This would be up considerably compared to what you would have expected to pay with Raffles Health Insurance previous to 2018’s changes.
At the end of the day, hopefully now you feel you have a better handle on the world of Singapore healthcare and health insurance – particularly on the private side of things.
There are a myriad of options to pick and choose from, specific details you’ll want to review before you sign on the dotted line and choose a program, and obviously you’ll want to do as much research and due diligence as humanly possible before you push forward with a decision this big.
Ideally, this quick guide will have shined a little bit of extra light on the subject for you so that you feel better prepared to wade into the deep end of the minutia so important to finding the perfect Singapore health insurance package that suits your needs, your budget, and your goals as best it can.
Be sure to pay attention to the fine print, always calculate your out-of-pocket costs with and “worst-case scenario” expense per year in mind, and verify – and then double verify – that you will be able to use your new ancillary coverage in conjunction with the MediShield Life plan at the hospitals, clinics, and doctors you want to have assisting you with your healthcare to begin with.
As long as you cover all of those bases you shouldn’t have much to worry about going forward!
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