Singapore is a top destination for expats. It’s central location, flourishing financial and tech sectors, a wealth of international schools, high-quality healthcare, and arguably some of the best food in the world, the city-state has a lot to offer expats and their families.
Once you have made the decision to relocate to the Garden City, the list of things you need to sort out will quickly start to swell. Think of the logistics of the journey itself, finding a place to live and the right school for your kids.
Despite its many attractive sides, not everything is always merry in Singapore. One of the spoilers is the cost of medical care. The quality of care is excellent – after all, Singapore was ranked by Bloomberg as having the second most efficient healthcare in 2016, it’s the price tag of it. This means that you would be well advised to consider taking out serious insurance cover for medical expenses.
Do you actually need insurance in Singapore?
This can be a tough question to answer, especially when moving to a country where healthcare and insurance functions a little differently from many western countries.
If you are a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident, you will be entitled to the Singaporean universal healthcare, which covers most healthcare expenses and you will not be paying much for most types of healthcare. This means that you might not necessarily need international health insurance in the long-term. It might be a good idea to secure insurance for a shorter term to ensure any health concerns are completely covered.
However, if you are an expat moving to Singapore, then you will unfortunately not have access to the universal healthcare system. This means that any medical care you need will not be subsidised by the government and you will be paying full price for any care.
Due to the cost of care, we at Insurance Market, advise expats moving to Singapore to secure at least some form of health insurance coverage.
What are your options for coverage?
If you are planning your move to Singapore you can consider the following options:
- Travel insurance – Designed to provide people travelling out of their home countries with emergency coverage, these plans are short-term in nature. Some expats consider securing this type of insurance to provide them with cover while they move and settle in Singapore and look for more long-term health insurance coverage.
- Local health insurance – Plans offered by private insurers based in Singapore. These plans usually will only cover health care within Singapore and might not have high enough coverage limits if you plan on seeking care at the most costly private hospitals in the city. These policies typically also only cover certain types of medical conditions and have relatively low limits.
- International insurance – Plans offered by private insurers, either based in Singapore or elsewhere, that provide health coverage anywhere in the world. Due to their international nature, these plans tend to offer high coverage limits which afford the holder the ability to receive care at pretty much any private hospital in the world, even in your home country.
Who will you need to cover?
This is an important question to ask yourself, especially if you are moving to Singapore with your family. Historically, many companies that hire expats will offer them comprehensive health insurance plans for the employee and their dependents. However, this is becoming increasingly rare.
Employees who relocate overseas will sometimes receive health insurance through their company, but this plan may not be extended to dependants. This means that you will need to secure separate coverage for your family. It is therefore important to discuss with your HR how your health insurance will work before leaving your home country, as you will then be able to figure out exactly who you need to cover.
The same can be said for your spouse. If they too will be working, it would be beneficial to see who their plan will cover.
What will you need to cover?
Most individual health insurance plans sold in Singapore will not cover pre-existing conditions, while other plans will have waiting times attached to certain coverage elements like maternity or dental.
Due to this, it is important to ask yourself what you will need to be covered before moving to Singapore. If you have a pre-existing condition there are plans that you can secure that will cover it, but there might be a loading (extra premium) or time that must pass before they will be covered.
The same can be said if you are planning on having a baby in the near future. Health insurance plans in Singapore that also have medical coverage will have a waiting period of around 12-24 months or more before you can submit claims related to maternity. The costs for an expat to have a baby in Singapore has recently been reported to be around SGD 15,000. Knowing this ahead of time can help you better select plans that meet your coverage needs.
What level of coverage will you need?
The majority of expats in Singapore secure plans with one of the three following levels of coverage:
- Inpatient only –These plans will only cover health care where you have been admitted to the hospital.
- Inpatient + outpatient – These plans will cover the above and will also cover outpatient and clinic visits.
- Full coverage – These plans will cover both of the above along with extra elements such as maternity or dental.
Finding the best value health insurance plan?
There are a wide variety of insurers and plans to select from in Singapore. So, how can you find a plan that not only provides the coverage you need but is also a perceived value? Well, you have a few options available to you.
First, you can go with the insurers directly. If you know approximately what type of plans you want, what you need to cover, etc. then going to the various insurers in the city could be a viable option. The major downside here is that you will be reviewing a large number of plans, which can take time. Not to mention the fact that actually knowing whether a plan is ‘good’ or not can be a tough thing. This is especially true when looking at additional services offered, how fast an insurer will pay claims, whether hospitals in Singapore will accept the coverage, etc.
The second option is to work with an impartial broker like Insurance Market. We have done all the heavy lifting for you already and analysed the policies available from a number of insurance companies and compared the cost. Go to Insurance Market and we will help you to select and arrange the best option for you and your family.
Finally, we at Insurance Market recommend considering an insurance that is portable, meaning you can take it with you if you move to another country. Growing older unfortunately sometimes comes with all kind of health issues which may make switching insurance company difficult because of the pre-existing condition exclusion that most insurers apply.
Continue reading: What You Need To Know Before Buying International Health Insurance
If you have any questions or need help finding the best insurance for you, contact us via InsuranceMarket.sg, chat with us, or call us at 3158 4292.