Why get Expat Health Insurance?
Despite Singapore’s high standard of healthcare, the cost remains very high. Thus, the recommendation is to cover yourself so that if the worst cases scenario emerges, you won’t be haemorrhaging money on extensive medical procedures, tests and hospital bills. Of course, this depends entirely on your circumstances – if your organisation already provides you with enough health insurance coverage, or your home country has policies that cover international claims, getting additional health insurance in Singapore may not be necessary. However, scenarios may arise where you feel you need additional coverage from private insurers, for example:
- If your organisation’s health insurance coverage is insufficient, or if they do not provide insurance at all.
- If your home country insurance is insufficient.
- If are a dependent in Singapore (where your spouse is the one working and not you).
Health Insurance for Expats in Singapore
A major thing to bear in mind is that Singaporean healthcare is generally expensive for expats as they do not qualify for the same level of public healthcare subsidies that are provided to locals or PRs. So, with this in mind, what kind of health insurance do expats qualify for?
It depends on your work status:
Work Permit or S-Pass
if you are working in Singapore on a Work Permit or S-Pass, your employer is obligated to provide you with a minimum annual health insurance coverage of $15,000. While the coverage is fully payable by the employer, the employee may have to co-pay up to 10% of their monthly income for claims that are unrelated to work.
if you have an Employment Pass, unlike the Work Permit or S-pass, your employer is not obligated to provide health insurance. If you are not covered by any home country policy, it is highly advisable to get yourself some coverage.
The main thing you want to look for is Private Health Insurance. Private insurers can provide health insurance plans for expats who want to take out a new policy, or to supplement their existing coverage.
Best Expat Health Insurance in Singapore (2022)
|Insurance Plan||Best For||
|AIA HealthShield Gold Max (Foreigners)||Maximum Annual Coverage||
|Great Eastern SupremeHealth (Foreigners)||Pre and Post Hospitalisation Expenses||
|NTUC IncomeShield (Foreigners)||Emergency Hospital Treatment Overseas||
Local vs International Private Health Insurance
There are 2 main types of Private Health Insurance available to expats: Local Health Insurance and International Health Insurance. So what is the difference?
Local Health Insurance
The main coverage of Local Health Insurance is primarily within Singapore. Any of the limited coverage provided overseas is usually only valid in emergency situations. You can make claims when you are hospitalised and/or for any treatments during pre and post hospitalisation. The policy is valid so long as it remains legal for you to reside in Singapore.
International Health Insurance
This usually covers you for hospitalisation and surgery within and outside of Singapore. The exact coverage depends on your personal plan, but coverage can range from a few countries to worldwide coverage. There are additional optional benefits that may be selected, such as travel, dental work, visits to GPs and maternity. The benefit of International Health Insurance plans is that, depending on your plan you could potentially keep using the policy even after you are no longer a resident of Singapore.
Average cost of Health Insurance for Foreigners
Costs are dependent on age, thus there is a range. Non-smoking 45-year-old individuals on a Singaporean Integrated Shield Plan may expect to pay around $132, whereas the average cost for 75-year-olds can range between $69 to $1,063 (this is before any MediSave contributions and are also not inclusive of MediShield Life premiums or Medisave contributions). Cost is also affected by any riders that have been purchased alongside the Health Insurance Plan.
Local vs International Health Insurance
Assessing whether a local or international health insurance policy is the best for you can be challenging as both have their advantages and disadvantages. A big factor is determining what lifestyle you are likely to follow, for example:
- If you intend to stay in Singapore for a long period of time with little-to no overseas travel, a local health insurance plan may be the best. Local health insurance also tends to be a bit cheaper than international health insurance.
- If you intend to stay in Singapore only a short while or are required to go overseas regularly for business trips, international health insurance may be the better fit.
What Local Health Insurance coverage should you look out for?
This generally covers any scenario that results in hospitalisation and/or surgery. This benefit allows you to claim all your medical expenses during your hospital stay, including but not limited to, room charges, surgery, medication and medical tests.
This covers any medical treatments received out of hospital, or scenarios that do not require you to stay in a hospital overnight. For example, dialysis, certain cancer treatments, etc.
Travel and Emergency
Local health insurance coverage usually only covers Singapore but there are options to select benefits that cover emergency situations you may encounter overseas when you travel such as requiring medical treatment, or emergency medical evacuations.
This covers any expenses before you are directly hospitalised, for example medical tests conducted in order to obtain a diagnosis prior to treatment. Check the small print for the number of days which are covered prior to hospitalisation as this will vary depending on the provider’s policies.
This benefit covers expenses after you have been hospitalised, for example, medical tests to check progress, consultation fees, cost of medication, etc. Again, check the small print as, like the pre-hospitalisation benefit, the number of days you are covered post-hospitalisation will vary depending on your health insurance provider.
Choose based on personal requirements
It can be overwhelming looking at all the wide array of benefits that are offered in different health insurance plans. When choosing your plan, you should evaluate which benefits are the most applicable to your lifestyle, and will also meet your needs.
It is also recommended to check the riders available as they can help to increase your coverage and/or lower your out-of-pocket costs. This includes things such as claiming back deductibles and any co-insurance policies.
Use a comparisons site
Use ROSHI to compare Health Insurance Plans to find the one that is best suited for you in terms of price and coverage.
Can foreigners buy medical insurance in Singapore?
Yes, there are private insurers that can provide medical insurance to expats.
How much does medical insurance cost in Singapore?
Using statistics for non-smoking 45-year-olds, the cost averages out around $132. It comes as a part of an Integrated Shield Plan that also includes a B1 ward, but does not cover MediShield Life premiums or Medisave contributions.
I may not live in Singapore forever, do I still get Health Insurance?
Whether you plan to stay or move back overseas in the future, it is advisable to get health insurance coverage just in case something major occurs. As an additional convenience, health insurance can also be cancelled anytime so you don’t have to be “tied-in” after you leave.
What kind of insurance do I need in Singapore?
It is recommended for working adults in Singapore to cover the following areas in their policy order to ensure maximum coverage: Life insurance, Health Insurance, Accident Insurance, Critical Illness Insurance and Income Disability Insurance.
Do I still need health insurance if I have corporate health insurance?
Maybe not – it all depends on the extent of coverage provided by your organisation. Make sure you read the scope of the policy, and if you think that the coverage is insufficient, you can always take out additional insurance to cover the gaps.
Can foreigners apply to be insured under MediShield Life?
No, expats are not eligible for MediShield Life as it is exclusive to Singaporeans and PRs.