Importance of Health Insurance
Health insurance is a way to mitigate the financial risk posed by rising healthcare expenses and the unknown and often unpredictable risks to health that come with day-to-day living. It is well known that inflation tends to drive up the cost of goods and services by about 3% a year, however healthcare inflation is far more severe. In Singapore, the medical costs and the associated expenses that arise from injury, illness or disability can be driven up 2X to 3X the national inflation rate each year (and is likely to get worse). While we do live in a developed society, advances in medicine, medical research and medical technology are expensive! Even if you pride yourself on good health, unfortunately all it takes is one bad accident or illness to completely wipe out your savings.
What You Need To Know About Health Insurance in Singapore
MediShield Life is a basic health insurance plan that is managed by the Central provident Fund (CPF) Board that aims to help Singaporean citizens and PRs offset certain healthcare costs.
Citizens and PRs are also able to take out additional coverage by getting an IP, which supplements the basic coverage provided in MediShield Life and allows for better class hospital wards and sometimes treatment in private hospitals.
In the past, the full rider meant the insurer covers 100% of the medical bill, however, past the 1st April 2019, all IPs sold will be co-paying. You should expect to pay at least 5% of the bill with the rest covered by the insurer.
Best Health Insurance in Singapore (2022)
|Insurance Plan||Best For||
|AXA Shield||Cheapest Premium, Emergency Overseas Treatment||
|AIA HealthShield Gold Max||Inpatient/Day Surgery, Outpatient Treatment||
|Aviva MyShield||Family Protection||
|Prudential PRUShield||Pre/Post Hospitalisation, Inpatient/Day Surgery||
|NTUC IncomeShield||Outpatient Treatment, Organ Transplant||
Types of Health Insurance
There are a range of difference health insurance policies and benefits and so choosing can be quite tricky. A brief overview of most common health insurance policies is provided below:
Hospital Income Insurance
For each day you are hospitalised, a fixed amount of cash is received daily from the insurer up to a defined maximum number of days per accident or illness (for example, $250 is provided for a maximum of 365 days for cancer treatment). It varies per provider, but Critical Illness Insurance can also be provided as a lump sum payment to cover ongoing medical expenses associated with e.g. cancer, heart attack, kidney failure, coma, etc.
Long-term Care Insurance
This coverage is often offered by providers as ElderShield supplements and covers instances where long-term nursing care is required, e.g. assistance with daily activities such as bathing, dressing and feeding. Policy holders may receive a fixed amount of cash at defined timepoints, (for example, $400 dispensed on a monthly basis)
Disability Income Insurance
In the event an accident leaves you temporarily disabled, you can receive “income replacement” of up to a certain percentage of your total monthly income, as defined prior to taking out the policy. For example, if you make $5,000 a month, and your insurer of choice has allowed for 80% coverage, you could expect to receive $4000 a month until you’re fit and able to perform your duties again.
Medical Expense Insurance
You can make claims for any medical treatment and hospitalisation costs. Depending on the fine print in your policy, the coverage provided will either be full or limited.
How is Health Insurance structured in Singapore
This is the basic health insurance provided for all Singaporean citizens and PRs and covers your basic public hospital treatments. Any treatment in private hospitals and class A and B1 wards is not included so you would need to pay any excess.
Integrated shield plan (IP)
Additional insurance plans can be purchased from private providers to supplement the basic coverage in MediShield Life. These plans often have a wider range of benefits and options, as well as higher claim limits. IPs usually cover you for pre and post hospitalisation scenarios, and they also increase the range of wards available for your stay.
Riders are add-ons to your main IP and have to be paid in cash. Riders vary greatly as they are catered very specifically to certain scenarios. For example, some riders will give you a hospital cash benefit while others will allow you to make claims for any deductible and co-insurance costs which are not otherwise included in the IP.
Why get an Integrated Shield Plan?
If you have MediShield and are also covered by your organisation’s insurance plan, that may very well be enough! While MediShield will covers your basics, it does have limitations however, and you could still end up forking over a large sum of money because a particular health scenario was not included. It could be that your employer’s policy is also limited. It is also important to bear in mind that changing jobs will mean that your previous employer’s policy will no longer cover you and you could be without cover in the transition period between roles.
What does the Integrated Shield Plan (IP) cover?
There are 4 tiers of IPs:
- Standard Integrated Shield Plan
- Class B1 Plans
- Class A Plans
- Private Hospital Plans
Benefits of an Integrated Shield plan
Higher claim limits
Annual claim limits are generally higher. Some policies may also be able to provide medical coverage internationally as well.
Higher ward classes
MediShield Life will let you access Class B2 and C wards, however IPs extend the range of wards available which can help reduce any waiting time for treatment. Depending on the specifics in the policy, private hospital may also be included.
IPs come with agents that act as your main point of contact for anything policy-related and can massively help with streamlining your claims or coverage checks. Better that than trawling through a government website trying to find relevant information!
Considerations before choosing an Integrated Shield Plan
Because health insurance premiums increase with time and the policy holder’s age, it is important to check if the current premium is affordable, as well as the ongoing costs of any future premiums. You should be able to sustain it in the long-term.
While cheapest plans are more affordable, you will definitely be compromising on coverage. Depending on what suits your lifestyle best, you should consider finding a plan that fits your budget whilst providing as much coverage as is applicable.
Paying for health insurance
Using MediSave to pay
If you want to use MediSave to pay for the premiums for an IP, bear in mind that you will be paying for both MediShield Life as well as this additional coverage. While the MediShield Life portion can be covered by MediSave, the full cost of the IP may not be due to the MediSave withdrawal limits. The withdrawal limits vary with age and can go from $300 per year for individuals aged 40 and below, to $900 per year for individuals aged 71 and above. If the additional costs for the IP exceed the withdrawal limit, the excess must be paid by cash. Riders do not qualify for MediSave payments.
Via family members
If you have insufficient balance in your MediSave account, your family members may use their MediSave to pay for you. However, if you don’t have enough funds (either from MediSave or from family support), there is also an option to pay the outstanding premiums for your MediShield Life via instalments.
Determine the Coverage Limits when Choosing a Health Plan
The best health plans do not have a lifetime benefit maximum so it is important to check the amount each plan will pay towards your medical expenses.
Consider Out-Of-Pocket Costs
The amount you are required to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance comes in is called your annual deductible. Some providers may require that the deductible is paid before you can make a claim for routine office visits.
Find the Total of Your Maximum Costs
To determine affordability of a policy it is good practice to calculate the total cost of the plan, including monthly premiums, coinsurance costs, and co-payments.
Those with ongoing health conditions may decide to opt for insurance with more coverage (but higher premiums), while those with a history of good health may be more comfortable with policies that provide more general coverage (but have average or lower premiums).
Optimize Your Health Insurance
As soon as you’ve identified a potential plan, thoroughly check the benefits booklet to determine what rates are charged for different services. For example, x-rays may be covered in the case of an emergency but not if they are ordered by a physician as a part of a routine check-up. A recommendation is to limit emergency visits and to see your physician instead!
Check Whether the Policy Includes Your Doctor
An important fact to bear in mind is that some insurance companies may not cover your doctor and instead specify certain physicians within their network. It’s a good idea to make sure that the policy will cover your doctor of choice, otherwise you may be surprised later when you go for a routine visit only to find out that you’re not covered and will have to switch providers.
How much is Health Insurance in Singapore?
The average cost of an Integrated Shield Plan (IP) for a 35-year-old non-smoking individual is about $83. This does not include premiums for MediShield Life (which covers up to B1 ward).
How does Health Insurance work in Singapore?
In Singapore, citizens and PRs are eligible for a basic health insurance called MediShield Life. If this is insufficient for your needs, you can also take additional coverage from a private health insurer to provide you with additional benefits. IPs are an example of this.
Can foreigners buy Health Insurance in Singapore?
Expats do not qualify for MediShield Life, however they can take out private health insurance from other providers.
How much does it cost to see a doctor in Singapore?
Based on MoneySense sample costings, staying in a Class A ward for 3 days would cost you about $900, plus additional hospital bills of $3,200.
Do you need Health Insurance in Singapore?
Yes, it is compulsory – Singaporean citizens and PRs must purchase Medishield Life as a minimum. Additional coverage (e.g. in Integrated Shield Plans) may also be purchased if required.
Can you opt out of MediShield life?
Unlike the previous MediShield scheme, you cannot opt out of MediShield Life as it is compulsory. MediShield Life premiums can be paid for using either Medisave points or cash.
What is an Integrated Shield Plan?
An IP is an additional and optional health insurance coverage that can be purchased from private providers (e.g. AIA and Aviva).
How do I know if I have an Integrated Shield Plan (IP)?
You will be able to see which insurer is covering your IP by logging in to your CPF account on www.cpf.gov.sg. Click ‘My Message’ and you’ll be able to find it under the Medishield-Approved Private Integrated Plan.
Is it compulsory to have an Integrated Shield plan?
No, only the MediShield Life is compulsory. You can purchase an IP if, for example, you want additional benefits that won’t automatically be covered in the basic plan, e.g. you want access to Private hospitals or Class A or B1 ward in Public hospitals.
Can I use MediSave to pay for my health insurance?
Yes, MediSave can be used to pay for MediShield Life as well as IP. However, any riders you purchase alongside your IP will have to be paid in cash.
Will the Integrated Shield Plan premiums increase with age?
Yes, this is due to rising healthcare costs. Premiums for the private insurance component of IP increase by 7% per year on average.
Can I have multiple shield plans?
No. Only one IP can be in place for yourself at any point in time due to the IPs generally providing similar coverage. Hospital bills and/or medical treatment costs should only be reimbursed off one plan.
If you are found to be making claims that breach the Ministry of Manpower’s rules and conditions, the department will claim the fee from the insurer, who will then recover the cost from you.